back to article From tomorrow, Google Chrome will block crud ads. Here's how it'll work

Starting tomorrow, Google, which makes most of its money from online advertising, will begin blocking egregious ads in its Chrome browser under limited circumstances – though it would really rather not. The reason, explained Chrome veep Rahul Roy-Chowdhury in a blog post on Tuesday, is that some ads suck. "It’s clear that …

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  1. src

    Not half-way good enough.

    So "...pages with more than 30% ad density" ,"Flashing animations", "Auto-playing videos with sound" are fine on desktop? Not around here they are not...

    Ad-blockers forever and f**k all advertisers.

    1. m0rt Silver badge

      Re: Not half-way good enough.

      Ads are a necessary evil. I accept that and act accordingly.

      But I can not, and will not, stand for adverts that are videos and auto-play sound/video.

      They are dispicable. Evil. Threatening our very societies.

      Flash ads, well saying flash is bad is like saying Leprosy is bad.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not half-way good enough.

        I have no problem with Flash ads. They are the best ads from my point of view. Flash doesn't exist on my PC, in much the same way I don't suffer from Leprosy.

      2. inmypjs Silver badge

        Re: Not half-way good enough.

        "Ads are a necessary evil."

        No they are not. They are a waste paid for by consumers and offer very little in return. It would be much cheaper to pay for content currently funded by advertising.

        I would love to live in a world which banned advertising, the whole world would be 4-5% richer and 3-4% of the workforce would be available to do something useful instead.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not half-way good enough.

          I would love to live in a world which banned advertising, the whole world would be 4-5% richer and 3-4% of the workforce would be available to do something useful instead.

          You don't think that there's nothing useful that marketing people can do? I suppose we could dry them and burn them for fuel. Or use them as food for endangered species.

          1. JLV Silver badge

            Re: Not half-way good enough.

            "Well do you ever reintroduce the tigers?"

            And she goes "Well, no, because their habitat can't sustain them."

            And immediately I thought to myself

            'There's so many extra children advertisers, we could just feed the children advertisers, to these tigers.'

            We don't need them. We're not doing anything with them.

            With txs to Neko Case

            p.s. Wonder how BBC will fare out of this. Lately, at least in Canada, their ads are pretty intrusive.

          2. grumpy-old-person

            Re: Not half-way good enough.

            Quote from Edwin Land (inventor of the Polaroid camera and many other things): "Marketing is what you do when your product is no good"

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not half-way good enough.

          It would be much cheaper to pay for content currently funded by advertising

          So you'll be first in line, with a fist full of cash, if this site offered subscription?

          Pull the other one.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Not half-way good enough.

            So you'll be first in line, with a fist full of cash, if this site offered subscription?

            I would - assuming that the subscription was a reasonable cost..

          2. Jan 0

            Re: Not half-way good enough.

            > So you'll be first in line, with a fist full of cash, if this site offered subscription?

            Yes, elReg already knows this and I've told plenty of other sites too.

          3. AlexGreyhead
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Not half-way good enough.

            I've read El Reg since at least 2001.

            I've probably learnt at least as much through El Reg's hacks as I did for my Computer Science BSc (Hons) - although that may equally be a sign of my lack of scholarly attention as it is the Reg hacks' knowledge and writing ability.

            In any case, I would gladly pay a reasonable subscription to get access to The Register's content.

            I suspect most long-term readers would, too - most of us are IT professionals in some guise or other and this site is a good source of relatively unbiased content.

            Paris for no other reason than they managed to shoe-horn her into this week's episode of Grand Tour (yes, I hate myself for watching it, too, but it makes I laugh...).

            /Al

          4. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Not half-way good enough.

            Nice job there, stating outright that you think anyone who answers "yes" is lying.

            Some of us, like myself, already do that when it's an option, and if subscribing means that that the tracking stops.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not half-way good enough.

        "Ads are a necessary evil. I accept that and act accordingly."

        If a site will either not use a third party that can put whatever javascript they want on my page without checking it or they will accept full liability for any nasties served up then I would consider unblocking it - they won't so I will keep blocking. I don't mind standard static ads but I am not going to risk compromise to see them.

        1. Skwosh

          Re: Not half-way good enough.

          The-Internet-Advertising-Industrial-Complex: I see you are using an ad-blocker. How dare you deprive content creators of the precious income they need to make great web-experiences. You swine.

          Me: I *really* don't want to deprive content creators of income. If I view this page without adverts on it then roughly how much money is the content creator going to be deprived of?

          The-Internet-Advertising-Industrial-Complex: La la la I'm not listening – and even if I were listening I wouldn't tell you. Please disable your ad-blocker. Advertising is the only way.

          Me: No seriously, I'm good for it. I'd love to be able to compensate the content creators directly. How much do you give them in the end as a result of me looking at the adverts on this page – after the various intermediaries have taken their rake off – is it the order of 0.01p, or 0.1p, or 1p, or 10p?

          The-Internet-Advertising-Industrial-Complex: La la la la la la la la. Not going to tell you already. Please disable your ad-blocker.

          Me: Is there really no way I can just send the money to the content creator directly? Maybe if there were some simple way to make micro payments or whatever, to compensate sites for blocking adverts, perhaps integrated into the browser or something. Could we do it that way?

          The-Internet-Advertising-Industrial-Complex: How many times do I have to tell you? Please just simply disable your ad-blocker.

          Me: Actually, come to think of it, I guess there's probably someone somewhere making money out of collecting all the information about what web-pages I look at too – so I'm thinking we should factor that in as well – and if I pay compensation directly to the content creators then there's not such a strong justification for me having my data harvested in the first place. I mean – if all this stuff is free then I guess people will put up with all the creepy sh*t – but if we start paying the creators then they wouldn't need to be complicit in tracking us any more would they. Maybe some of them wouldn't even need you any more. How does that sound?

          The-Internet-Advertising-Industrial-Complex: Please disable your ad-blocker – and also – you are talking dangerous, impractical and heretical nonsense and shall burn in hell.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Not half-way good enough.

      I run noscript, even for El Reg. I do it for security reasons. Even for El Reg. Reason: things _like_ Meltdown, Spectre, for one. And HOW many articles have been written about rogue ad script being injected by some unknown party into the ad-space of a well known (and well respected) web site? How can you stop it EXCEPT to block the script? Exactly! You block the script.

      El Reg: if you want me to see ads, just don't include script with them. I don't mind, really. I might even click on them.

      'Flashy' ads - would that be ads that have NON-STATIC content in them? They're irritating. That includes streaming ad content, moving GIF files, or any other video, WITH OR WITHOUT sound. Just say NO. And that's on a desktop OR mobile. It's "evil everywhere"

      Here's a thought (for El Reg): Just test the effectiveness of static ads, placed at non-irritating places on the screen, that don't have script on the client side, don't do cookie or invisible graphic style tracking, and simply click through a server that sends you to the appropriate place and logs that you clicked on it. it can capture your IP address, the date/time, a session ID [if you're logged in], or even who's logged in, as well as a browser identification string (like USER-AGENT). that should be good enough for metrics.

      Anyway, looking forward to seeing those UN-SCRIPTED ads when I read El Reg.

      1. BongoJoe Silver badge

        Re: Not half-way good enough.

        I run a popular website. I do have a few static advertising links on my blog in the middle of a well written article. That's fine as far as I am concerned as I am the one making sure that link is simply a static link to a page.

        Then I get these large advertising giants who want me to put my site inside a massive wall of JavaScript. And I mean massive. The script has no line feeds, useless variable names and is clearly designed not to debugged and analysed.

        When I get these JavaScript samples from these advertising agencies I always ask for an version of the code that is human readable and with documentation.

        I have never once had my request granted. I have no intention of letting these JavaScript walls onto my site: I don't even have a Google Analytics script running as I feel that the only JavaScript on a site should be a single line of code to put the cursor into the first text input box.

        Anyway, if these agencies refuse to let us know what they are wanting us to put on our websites then there's no way that I will have them on my website. And if I don't trust them not to put them onto my website then there's no way that I am going to trust them as a visitor to the site.

        So, it's adblockers, HOSTS files and subscription sites all the way for me.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not half-way good enough.

          ..." And I mean massive. The script has no line feeds, useless variable names and is clearly designed not to debugged and analysed."

          Just a FYI, that is probably script that has been run through a minimiser. It is standard practice for large amounts of javascript as it reduces the size and download time. It is likely to be that rather than wanting it to be analysed, but it does have a consequence of making it difficult to 'read'.

          However why they need that much js to show an ad, who knows, I agree. The issue is also with a simple line of js that an ad company might give you to put on your site (which most do) is that it is just a source link or a small script that writes in a massive chunk of js when the page is rendered by the user's browser. This script can also change constantly and do whatever it wants without the site owner (or user) knowing.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Not half-way good enough.

            "Just a FYI, that is probably script that has been run through a minimiser."

            Yes, this is very likely true. It doesn't make the practice any more acceptable, though.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Not half-way good enough.

          I don't even have a Google Analytics

          That site (and all it's little tentacles) is blocked permanently in every firefox add-in that does blocking in my setup.

          It's way beyond creepy and well into the stalkery territory.

        3. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Not half-way good enough.

          Thank you, BongoJoe. You're one of the good ones!

          Every time I see the argument that we should allow ad networks to run code on our machines because if we don't then we're hurting the websites, I can only think of two things:

          1) Good job, there, advertisers, using web site owners as human shields like that.

          2) Web sites who show so much contempt for their readers that they insist on exposing them to advertising networks like that are web sites that do not deserve consideration or respect. Best is not having such ads in the first place, but trying to convince people to lower their defenses against them crosses the line into being outright contemptuous.

      2. Jedit
        Stop

        "I run noscript, even for El Reg."

        Especially use it for El Reg. The Google Ads script that it uses regularly causes the site to hang or the page to crash in Internet Explorer and Firefox. But not in Chrome, which I'm sure is a complete coincidence and not actually Google's deliberate intent.

        So far as I'm concerned, Google Ads are malware.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Not half-way good enough.

        I run noscript, even for El Reg.

        El Reg is one of the sites that I allow scripts to run on. However, I also run Privacy Badger and Ghostery so I don't see any ads at all.

        As I've said before - if El Reg offered a subscription service I'd happily pay (assuming that it's a reasonable fee!)

        Mind you, the only time I see adverts on TV is during the times I watch the NFL on Sky Sports (and even then, I tend to start watching about 30 minutes after the programme has started recording so that I can fast-forward through the adverts). Just because the advertiser as paid for the adverts doesn't mean that I should be forced to watch them.. especially when the same adverts seem to be on ditto-repeato all through the programme).

  2. imanidiot Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Well behaved ads on the Reg

    Not quite. And I still don't like that 2/3rd of my screen is taken up by a clickable ad. I've quite often accidentally clicked on one of the side banners when navigating around and it's annoying! And I've seen annoying, moving ads here too!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well behaved ads on the Reg

      They are well behaved in that if you make your browser window narrower the side ads get squeezed out and the Reg content remains.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Well behaved ads on the Reg

        To many times I have opened all the storeis I want for Firefox or IE (Corporate machine I have no say in web browser preference before you whine use Chrome or Edge) to go into meltdown using up all the CPU. Hasn't been a while but Reg I hate your fill all whitespace adverts which don't work well when I open 20 tabs

        Edit: Time to dig out the 15 inch 4:3 TFT

        1. Boothy

          Re: Well behaved ads on the Reg

          I find using https://m.theregister.co.uk/ at work to be a better experience than the full site.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Well behaved ads on the Reg

      Please, ONLY 'well behaved' ads on the Reg. set an example, prove it works.

      (see my earlier post)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm curious to see the reaction of the EU to a leading browser blocking by default ads that are not served by the same company as the one making the browser.

    Well, to be fair, they'll let a bunch of other ads through; I doubt that Facebook is in danger. Still, it's worth noting there's a conflict of interest...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Certainly their banhammer looks to be a bit of a blunt instrument. Does it block all ads on a site it deems misbehaving, or just the misbehaving ones?

      And as you say, Google are the world's number one advertising company. Depending on how you measure it, they may have a global advertising monoply, they certainly have a global search monopoly - and I'm pretty sure they now have a global browser monopoly.

      They need to be very careful to tick the right legal boxes - or they're going to get fined big-time for monopoly abuse. And given their recent levels of arrogance, I wouldn't bet they've done their homework - and will then act all hurt when the regulators come a'questioning. We shall see.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Google don't have a global browser monopoly. People use many other web browsers including defaults shipped with devices. People search using Google search engines possibly because they like the results.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          The legal definition of a monopoly is a lot more complex than you might think. A quick Google finds me a link to the Ministry of Justice that says that you have to have a market share of over 50% to be practically considered a monopoly.

          Though sometimes the term is misused to talk about a small group of firms with a huge market share between them. Which would be an Oligopoly. Or a cartel if they're proved to have been illegally cooperating.

          A quick Google shows that Chrome has a global market-share of a bit under 60%.

          Ergo Google has a browser monopoly. In search I seem to recall it's around 80%. Android is probably also a monopoly by now - though that depends if you count the mobile market by units shipped, or revenue.

          You are correct that people search on Google because they like it. Or at least that's why they originally moved to it. And having a monopoly is perfectly legal. But the EU just fined them a couple of billion for abusing that monopoly to unfairly control the market for price comparison.

          However it looks like I'm wrong about advertising. A quick Google suggests that Google have 40%-odd of the US digital advertising market, but that's actually lower in the UK - where Google and Facebook combined are 55%. Last year I read a figure that Google and Facebook between them had captured 90% of the growth in that market though, so their marketshare is zooming up.

          However it could be argued that they're illegally leveraging their browser monopoly to try to give them a digital advertising monopoly. And so they need to be damned careful that they're not!

          Or that they've covered the evidence if they are...

        2. Ledswinger Silver badge

          Google don't have a global browser monopoly.

          In legal terms, monopoly power is not reliant upon an absolute monopoly, nor upon whether other choices are available. As previous market investigations and "remedies" the world over show.

          With Chrome now reported as 55-60% market share, Google are well over the 25% threshold generally used to indicate a risk of excessive market power.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Google has dominant share in two markets here

            It isn't just browser market share, there is also market share of online advertising to consider. Google has a huge share there as well, and you don't need an actual monopoly to abuse your market position in browsers to help your market position in online advertising.

            Because non-Chrome browsers allow complete ad blocking, even if not all Firefox/IE/Safari/etc. users take advantage of it, web sites have to rely on Chrome users for a greater share of their ad revenue than their share of Chrome users. Thus when sites get the Google banhammer dropped on them they lose the large majority of their ad revenue. If they go to Google and say "we've asked our ad network to not give us those bad ads but sometimes they do, how do we stop them?" Google will say "come into our warm embrace and use our ad network, you will never get blocked!" and suddenly third party ad networks find all their customers fleeing to Google.

            The US probably wouldn't do anything about such behavior other than just have a few congressional hearings, but the EU will put the hurt on them.

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          "Google don't have a global browser monopoly"

          No, they have a browser. And they're going to block ads from competitors, it would seem.

          Skipping the possibly pedantic explanation using a grocery store analogy.

          Anyway, I expect courts to be deciding this at any time in the very near future.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Certainly their banhammer looks to be a bit of a blunt instrument.

        Although - it is well to keep in mind that the advert business in general is happy with what Google proposes so it's can't have that much impact on their profits. Which means it's going to be pretty ineffectual.

        However, the ad business are *most* unhappy that Apple is starting to block cross-site tracking by default.

        1. WolfFan Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          However, the ad business are *most* unhappy that Apple is starting to block cross-site tracking by default.

          How sad. Too bad.

          [exits, to the sound of 'Surfing Safari']

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          "However, the ad business are *most* unhappy that Apple is starting to block cross-site tracking by default."

          Indeed. I applaud Apple loudly for their efforts with this stuff. It's an excellent move! Google's effort is, in my view, worthless.

  4. Lotaresco Silver badge

    Static ads good, javascript baaaad

    The recent ICO et al cryptocurrency mining debacle demonstrates why it's a bad idea to permit third parties to execute code in your browser. For this reason I don't block ads, but I do block javascript. My firewall also blackholes all Amazon Adsystem cruft because I find it creepy to have a completely unrelated website to echo back to me what my recent purchases on Amazon were.

    Oddly this thoroughly sensible security policy also removes 99.999% of all ads from all sites. This is the evidence that the vast majority of ads are not "well behaved".

    No matter how desperately someone wants to sell me things, it is not a reasonable expectation that my computer should be used to execute their software without my permission.

    1. shade82000

      Re: Static ads good, javascript baaaad

      "I find it creepy to have a completely unrelated website to echo back to me what my recent purchases on Amazon were."

      So this is not entirely about ads because I use a blocker and it currently doesn't stop the "How about these items" on Amazon and eBay ... so why is it that they insist on giving me recommendations for things I have already bought?

      These companies obviously spend a lot of money and time developing algorithms to suggest items for people to buy but in my experience over the last 20 years it just doesn't work.

      It's not that I don't buy much stuff online - I'd say we have a Prime delivery every other day and eBay stuff landing from various countries 5 days a week, so it's not like they don't have enough info to build a profile of the kind of stuff we buy and what else might be useful.

      So, to illustrate some of the items I recently bought are: a rounded nut removal tool, 18x 200g bags of Kenco, 2x e-cigarette batteries, 24x packs of dried noodles and 6x boxes of Nairns oatcakes.

      So, you'd think that these COMPLETED purchases might trigger some algorithm that figures I might appreciate a set of cheese knives, maybe some coffee cups, or a set of bowls, chopsticks, some e-cig tanks / juice, or a ratchet handle.

      Nope, they want to sell me EXACTLY the same items that I have ALREADY just bought. Not even similar items, but endless clickable images of exactly the same items from various sellers.

      That is truly annoying.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Static ads good, javascript baaaad

        I'm sure they could but would Amazon want to send every transaction up to a third party advertising service? They would have a gold mine of information that only Amazon currently has.

        I have noticed in the past that the best way to get information about your competitors is get friendly (as in pretend you are interested in an account) with a sales guy who does advertising for or with them and they will tell you everything about that company - number of sales/impressions etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Static ads good, javascript baaaad

        > Nope, they want to sell me EXACTLY the same items that I have ALREADY just bought

        Amazon seems to be particularly good at sending me "hey, we though you'd like these..." e-mails for things that are generally of a "one-off purchase" nature, in the gap between me (a) buying the item from them, and (b) them posting it to me.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Static ads good, javascript baaaad

      I too have set a block list in my FW. I was doing it on the PC/browser for a while, but on the FW it takes no CPU resources :) and works for all my systems.

      One thing google won't block, is their own adds - but I do LOL

      Anyone that uses chrome - the agreement you accept during install is allows them to monitor "all" activity within the browser. If you read it, and understand it, you won't use it.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Static ads good, javascript baaaad

        "The agreement you accept during install is allows them to monitor "all" activity within the browser. "

        There's no such agreement in Chromium however. :)

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Static ads good, javascript baaaad

      "For this reason I don't block ads, but I do block javascript."

      Ditto.

      Although I do have ublock, I hardly ever activate it, except for the most annoying stuff that gets past noscript (which to be honest is few and far between)

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Static ads good, javascript baaaad

      (topic)

      my sentiments exactly.

      Ads can be displayed via an ad server with some kind of non-persistent method of determining what ad you're viewing and where to send you when you click on it. No scripting, no persistent cookies nor offline data.

  5. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Devil

    Doublespeak...

    "Google's goal... is not to filter any ads at all but to improve the experience for all web users."

    Le sigh... as usual, hiding behind the wall of altruism. This is again about (ab)using a dominant market position (itself gained largely by similar activity in another market that Google has a practical monopoly in) to attack potential competitors and acclimatise the end users towards increasing acceptance of Google's control over what web content is easily accessible (ie: that conforming to Google's criteria), and what will be buried away or potentially censored.

    "Google has grasped the depth and breadth of the resentment created by the ad industry's unrepentant bad behavior." - however, they're still doing their level best to condition the end user against their control and data-slurping.

  6. Timmy B Silver badge

    Auto playing videos is one thing.....

    The worst is those that create a sub window that follows you round the page as you scroll and don't respect the fact you've paused the main window.

    1. enormous c word

      One in the eye for Bacefook

      I wonder if this is more about hurting the competition than protecting users. I suspect the majority of FBs advertising will fail.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    El Reg has ads?

    Who knew?

    I guess I'm just very used to my ad-blocker by now.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Stop

      Re: El Reg has ads?

      It's fine that you block their source of revenue. People don't like ads, we get it.

      But you don't have to be an arse and gloat about it.

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