Word leaked out in April that an upcoming version of the Google Chrome browser will block the most annoying types of ads—not to destroy the paid ad experience (that’s Google’s big money-maker), but to save it. People turn to ad blockers because intrusive ads ruin their browsing, the idea goes. Stop the worst offenders and people won’t block ads.
Today, we have confirmation: In early 2018, a Chrome update will include an ad filter (as Google prefers to call it) that searches out sites with poor ad experiences. Chrome will then block all ads on offending sites.
What ads are irritating? Google isn’t singling out particular ad types, but it has created a guide explaining what ad experiences users find most grating. On desktop, ads that remove control from the user—such as pop-up ads with countdown timers—are the most annoying. On mobile, ads that remove speed and convenience—such as prestitial ads with a countdown—are hated. Google worked with the industry group the Coalition for Better Ads to determine which ads were the most irritating.
Google isn’t springing this on anyone. Rather, it has created a tool called The Ad Experience Report that combs through a desktop or mobile site and points out the bad ads. Only verified site owners can search through a site. Publishers have until 2018 to clean up their pages.
While the filtering wasn’t a surprise, this next part is: Chrome will also help turn the tide on ad blockers, getting people to shut them off. Using an option called Funding Choices, currently in beta, publishers can show people using blockers a custom message asking them to either whitelist their site (which now has only non-irritating ads) or pay a small charge with their Google Play account to view it ad-free.
“It’s far too common that people encounter annoying, intrusive ads on the web—like the kind that blare music unexpectedly, or force you to wait 10 seconds before you can see the content on the page,” writes Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vice president of ads and commerce at Google. “These frustrating experiences can lead some people to block all ads—taking a big toll on the content creators, journalists, web developers, and videographers who depend on ads to fund their content creation.”
Chrome is currently the most popular web browser for both desktop and mobile viewers, so publishers and advertisers would be wise to make this a priority.