It’s finally happening: on February 15, 2017, Google’s Chrome browser will block some ads out-of-the-box, regardless of whether you have a separate ad blocker installed.
That means Google, the web’s biggest advertising company, will start deciding which ads do and don’t get blocked in your browser. Should users be happy about this, or apprehensive about what Google is up to?
Something Like This Was Necessary
Google isn’t blocking all ads: just the ones on sites that “misbehave.” In the blog post announcing the change, Google stated they will block all ads on sites with a certain amount of ads that violate standards from the Coalition for Better Ads. The Coalition includes tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, alongside media organizations including The Washington Post and Reuters. Together, they’ve built a list of ad types they consider unacceptable. Anyone who uses the web regularly should recognize the culprits: popups, auto-playing video ads with sound, and others will be blocked:
All of these ads are terrible, and the mobile incarnations are arguably even worse:
These kinds of ads make browsing the web miserable, and we’d all be better off if they went away. But it’s unlikely that publishers would make this decision unilaterally: such ads pay well, and that extra money is hard to resist for media organizations already struggling to get by.
So Google has decided to force the issue.
As of February 15, Chrome’s desktop and mobile versions will block all ads on any site that uses these sorts of advertisements. It’s hard to overstate how devastating this will be for sites that are blocked: Chrome is used by over 60 percent of desktop and mobile users. Publishers have had almost a year to make sure their site fits the standard, and this is some serious motivation for them to do so.
It’s easy to see the upside of this development. You, as a user, will be able to browse the web without seeing these horrible ads—either sites will get rid of them, or they’ll be blocked. Without some kind of intervention, these sorts of ads would only become even more common, making the internet worse for everyone.
But there’s also a potential…
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