Websites that run annoying ads such as pop-ups may find all ads blocked by Google’s Chrome browser starting next year.
The digital-ad giant’s announcement comes as hundreds of millions of internet users have already installed ad blockers on their desktop computers and phones to combat ads that track them and make browsing sites difficult.
These blockers threaten websites that rely on digital ads for revenue. Google’s version will allow ads as long as websites follow industry-created guidelines and minimize certain types of ads that consumers really hate. That includes pop-up ads, huge ads that don’t go away when visitors scroll down a page and video ads that start playing automatically with the sound on.
Google says the feature will be turned on by default, and users can turn it off. It’ll work on both the desktop and mobile versions of Chrome.
Google says that even ads it sells will be blocked on websites that don’t get rid of annoying types of ads.
But there might not be vast changes online triggered by the popular browser’s efforts. It’s a “small number of websites that are disproportionately responsible for annoying user experiences,” Google spokeswoman Suzanne Blackburn said.
“I’m sure there are some publishers who will get hurt,” said Brian Wieser, an ad analyst with Pivotal Research Group. But in the long term, he says, cracking down on irritating ads should make the internet experience better, encouraging people to visit sites and click on links. That, in turn, benefits Google.
The company is also starting a program that could help publishers deal with users who have downloaded popular ad blockers. Some individual websites have come up with their own countermeasures. Forbes.com, for example, won’t let you read stories without disabling your ad blocker or logging in with Facebook or Google accounts, so the site can track you.
Google would work with websites to set up messages telling users to disable their blockers for the site or pay for a version of it with no ads. It’ll take a 10 percent cut of those payments.
To protect its ad business, Google has tried to improve user experiences in other ways. It launched a way for websites to load faster on phones. And it used its sway as the dominant search engine to push companies to make their sites mobile-friendly. Such sites show up higher in mobile searches.
Google also has tried to address advertisers’ concerns about their ads running next to offensive content by banning its ads from some objectionable videos on YouTube, like those that promote discrimination or advocate illegal drug use. Google also won’t place its ads on web pages with objectionable content — porn, for example, and or sites that promote suicide or violence.
Facebook, too, is trying to make links from inside its universe less spammy for users. It says it’s trying to cut down on posts and ads in the news feed that lead to junky pages with “little substantive content” and “disruptive, shocking or malicious ads.”
Image: Google’s ad blocker will allow ads as long as websites follow industry-created guidelinesLeon Neal/AFP/Getty Images