back to article Google cracks down on browser ad injectors after shocking study

More than 100,000 Chrome users have complained to Google about extensions injecting ads into their browser windows since January 1, 2015 alone, and now The Chocolate Factory is moving to block the worst offenders. Ad injectors are extensions – or occasionally standalone apps – that replace native advertising on web pages with …

  1. Graham Marsden
    Holmes

    Well of course...

    Shoving unwanted ads into people's browser windows is Google's job!

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Well of course...

      But Google is doing it in an *ethical* manner...

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Well of course...

        "But Google is doing it in an *ethical* manner..."

        April fools was yesterday.

        1. MrDamage

          Re: Well of course...

          According to the Google Dictionary;

          Ethical Manner: Ensures all income derived from ads goes into Google's wallet, and not someone elses.

          1. maffski

            Re: Well of course...

            In Googles defence, Ethical Manner (TM) is still in beta.

        2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Well of course...

          April fools was yesterday.

          But ethical day is everyday!

          In Googles defence, Ethical Manner (TM) is still in beta.

          That would be bethical behaviour ("bebe"), then?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well of course...

      But you want the ads, surely. How else could you engage with the brands you love on the terms they set?

      Just imagine a world without adverts...

  2. Sebastian A

    Where does this leave Adblockers?

    Are they considered to be ad injectors, since they interfere with and overwrite the intended advertising (with blank space, as the user wants, but still.).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: Where does this leave Adblockers?

      Tried getting adblock from Google play lately?

      1. oneeye

        Re: Where does this leave Adblockers?

        Use Firefox for Android,as it is the only one that uses extensions,or add-ons. Ghostery is pretty good,and they also have a new stand alone browser in playstore. Also other adblocking extensions are available. Now if you want something that works on the whole device,use Disconnect or Adgaurd both available from their websites. They have a free and premium sudscriber version. Another adblocking Android browser is Mercury,but if you have a Chinese aversion then skip it. Firefox is by far the best option for all kinds of privacy helps, And it will save data too. Now if you have limited ram,then use Opera mini because their compression technology will eliminate a fair amount of bs. So you see,lots of options if people only do their homework.

    2. phil dude
      Pirate

      Re: Where does this leave Adblockers?

      I think if you root your android, there are many options.

      Right now I am trying to NOT root this phone, so I am careful where I click on the screen....

      P.

  3. John Tserkezis

    Not only with Chrome either.

    A Firefox Addon called "DoNotTrackMe" was sold out to Abine, and became "Blur" an ad delivery system.

    There is no way in anybody's hell I'm going to call it what their promo web page claims, because straight off the bat it delivers ads to your browser's 'desktop'.

    You can get rid of those ads - but you have to register and pony up a heap of your personal information.

    Ironincally, this was exactly what DoNotTrackMe was trying to stop anyone from doing in the first place.

    Fuck you Abine, fuck you very much.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Not only with Chrome either.

      The "Do Not Track Me" in any browser is worthless as probably 95% of the websites ignore it anyway. Those damn ads are hard to get rid of... maybe we should start nuking the agencies from space.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Not only with Chrome either.

        We should convince the neocons that ad agencies are actually SECRETLY FINANCED BY IRAN and trying to DESTROY ISRAEL.

        That would fix things in a jiffy.

        1. Dan Paul

          Re: Not only with Chrome either.

          No, thats what YOU have been up to.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not only with Chrome either.

      I changed to using Ghostery, after DoNotTrackMe decided it needed read + write access to my (desktop) system's network settings. (Like wf!?)

      Asked Albine why it needed those permissions, and their spokesperson did the bullshit "have you tried turning it off/on again" type of no-answer "there's no problem here" routine. :(

      Then contacted Ars Technica... to point out the problem... and no response there.

      So, it's interesting to know I wasn't wrong about something going rogue there.

  4. CJ_in_AZ

    Read the contents of ads from /dev/null

    I know many users who would like to have a "custom ad" injector that would display "null files" as ads in lieu of the usual load of potential fertilizer.

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Flame

    Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

    But then again, neither are adverts in general.

    A plague upon all their houses.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

      The only "healthy ads ecosystem" I can imagine relies on ABP and it's close relatives. No fuss, no need for complaints.

      1. Ian Bush

        Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

        Disagree. The need for ABP, and I can't understand how people browse without it, is a symptom, it's not the cure. That will come when the advertisers understand that they haven't got a god given right to shove their crap in your face 24,7 whether you want it or not. But it's going to be a chilly day in hades then

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

          > That will come when the advertisers understand that they haven't got a god given right to shove their crap in your face 24,7 whether you want it or no

          Which will come when "users" realise they also have a right to pay for the content they are consuming on the internet. It all has to get paid for somehow, and the general trend so far is that users are a bunch of tight fisted folks who would rather put up with adverts (indirect costs) rather than pay up front (direct costs).

          Not just web - happening in gaming too with "free to play" - people just don't like paying for software.

          1. RyokuMas Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

            "Not just web - happening in gaming too with "free to play" - people just don't like paying for software."

            Another case for the +100 button! And what makes it worse is that the same people who refuse to pay for stuff then start ranting about how good games do make money and if you're not making any return then your game must be shit...

            Pint for you, Pete_H!

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

              In other news, people are a-ok with providing data to the Zuckoberg/NSA complex and to cloudify stuff on companies established on the "4-eyes" compact.

              They also vote in the same dumb fucks who a currently driving the car to the next wall at breakneck speed every single time.

              The experiment has failed.

              Remove humanity!

            2. Elmer Phud

              Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

              Soooo, it's fine to advertise a game as 'free to play' with a tiny (may need in-game purchases to get anywhere off the first level)?

              They are NOT 'free to play' they are 'we'll get you hooked then demand money to get anywhere with the game'.

              Free to play?

              Nah, 'free to be pwnd'

              1. Helldesk Dogsbody

                Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

                "Free to play?

                Nah, 'free to be pwnd'"

                Yes and no, it depends on the transaction model used. Where the primary source of revenue is XP boosters and cosmetic items it's not that bad TBH. Wargaming.net and Gaijin are probably the two best that I've seen for this, while you can hand over some money to speed up the process all of the game is available without doing so, you'll just spend a long time at each tier past about 5.

                Of course you're still likely to get owned as some of the players are just insanely good and there's always the conveniently timed lag spike, the one that only kicks in when you try to hit the fire button causing instant death as they get the drop rather than you...

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

          3. Rafael 1

            Re: It all has to get paid for somehow

            I don't believe in "paying to get rid of ads" -- more precisely, I don't believe that paying to get rid of ads will get me rid of advertisers. Just like cable or satellite TV.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It all has to get paid for somehow

              "I don't believe that paying to get rid of ads will get me rid of advertisers. Just like cable or satellite TV."

              Does PBS (in the US) need to routinely run ads? (I don't know/can't remember).

              PBS is now available in the UK, but afaict it's only available as part of a for-money bundle on a for-money satellite broadcaster.

              1. Matt Piechota

                Re: It all has to get paid for somehow

                "Does PBS (in the US) need to routinely run ads? (I don't know/can't remember)."

                Not as such. From time to time they'll have fund drives where people interrupt the shows to beg for money from the viewers. I'm not sure which is worse. I suppose on a small scale, shows on PBS (and NPR) are often sponsored by one or more backers. "$SHOWNAME is sponsored by JimmyWidget, makers of fine widgets for discerning tastes and The Croydon Arts Council, presenting Oliver Twist from March 3rd until April 1st at the Dabs Theatre".

          4. Kubla Cant Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

            @Pete H Which will come when "users" realise they also have a right to pay for the content they are consuming on the internet.

            OK Pete, you've convinced me. Can you provide a list of the sites that are worth paying for so that we can all subscribe?

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

            Or the advertisers accept that their business model isn't working.

            The music business went through this. They wanted to carry on with physical music sales. Then filesharing took off and everyone sat around and bitched about how the companies couldn't deal with it, their business models didn't work and they had to accept it.

            Well, same deal for the ad companies and for sites which rely on their income. We don't want ads. We install adblockers. Your current business model doesn't work, so you need to change it or die.

            Except one ad company in particular is too powerful. They release a browser which can't have ad blocking. They release whole operating systems with advertising systems baked in. The customers will have ads and will like it. And their defenders stand up for them because the up-front costs are lower than the competition. The downstream costs? They don't count.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

      "But then again, neither are adverts in general."

      Yes totally agree, all ads should be banned. We should be back to BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, BBC NEWS and the BBC radio stations only in the UK.

      BBC Could then use the extra freeview space to expand all the way up to BBC56 or have BBC1+1, BBC1+2, BBC1+3 all the way to BBC1+24.

      Your life should be filled with non commercial tv and radio. Newspapers also - creat a BBC newspaper for everyone to read.

      1. Stephen Wilkinson

        Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

        That's basically my viewing and listening any way so perfect

      2. Ian Watkinson

        Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

        "Yes totally agree, all ads should be banned. We should be back to BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, BBC NEWS and the BBC radio stations only in the UK."

        Hmm, wonder how else we'd do it.

        Well just like sky sports then, you know every 15 minutes through a football game it stops to advertise chocolate, or beer, or football boots.

        Or...you know people could produce great content and I could well subscribe and pay them money to watch it.

        Na, it would never catch on, who'd pay money to watch football and other sports on Television...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

          "Well just like sky sports then...you know people could produce great content and I could well subscribe and pay them money to watch it."

          Oh yeah, I forgot Sky (Including Sky Sports) don't have any adverts for their subscribers. Oh no they do, ads and subscription the best of both worlds for you.

        2. TeeCee Gold badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

          every 15 minutes through a football game it stops to advertise

          1) They are not allowed to do this and they don't. All the action is shown live as it happens. You'd know this if you'd ever watched sport on SKY rather than just making shit up.

          2) ITV did do this once accidently (some eejit thumped the play button while cueing up the ads for half-time). They got arseraped by OFCOM for their pains.

          Half-time ads are no big deal. That's when you go and make the tea anyway.

          1. Vic

            Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

            They got arseraped by OFCOM for their pains.

            £50 fine?

            Vic.

      3. theModge

        Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

        You have pretty much described my TV watching as it stands...

        I do listen to commercial radio(kerarrang replacement services, what ever it calls it self), right until the first ad break, then it's time for radio 4 (or a CD, if the archers is on). News papers could be financed by an old fashioned method where by you give them money and they give you news.

        </grumpy old man>

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IMHO, I have no real objection to small advertising files being part of each page I view - its pretty much a necessary evil - as long as it doesnt consume huge amounts of bandwidth. But I do object to large video stuff, flash etc, so surely surely "Third Party Injectors" have NO place on the web.

    For the system of ad supporting content to work then the page owner gets to decide who he is selling ad space to and receive something for each page impression viwed, not some scammer coding hidden function into extensions which pretty much become malware.

    As a company that has grown on the back of advertising, Google should understand this and stop ALL the injectors - unless they can be shown to be financially contributing to the upkeep on the sites they steal advertising space on.

    But then we know that ad men are the most venal of groups.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "IMHO, I have no real objection to small advertising files being part of each page I view - its pretty much a necessary evil - as long as it doesnt consume huge amounts of bandwidth. But I do object to large video stuff, flash etc, so surely surely "Third Party Injectors" have NO place on the web."

      Yes. Adverts are not intrinsically bad, but the arms race between the advertisers to be "bigger and better" and more in-your-face than the competition is what has destroyed the experience and lead to ad-blockers, flash blockers, script blockers etc.

      Auto-play video ads are the spawn of the devil!!!!!

  7. John Riddoch
    Pirate

    "If the software ... doesn't interfere with website-specified advertising"

    Translation:

    "If the software doesn't interfere with our advertising revenue streams"

  8. hardboiledphil

    More of an annoyance

    So we probably don't really care who's getting the money for the click through but these things are annoying. Recently had the misfortune of using a friends machine which had exactly one of these extensions. Type your search in google and the list pops up as expected and then just as you're about to click on the link the whole page scrolls down while a new list of mostly the same links is shoved in at the top.

    Would be interesting to see what happened with 3 or 4 of these installed - browser injector wars! Only the strongest will survive!!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Only 200?

    I'm pretty sure the amount of crap extensions is closer to 99%. Same with Android apps.

    General rule: if I can't read the code, I don't install it.

  10. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    Advertising on the intertubz

    google are cleaning plugins out that inject ads ......

    Many of those plugins are likely injecting ugly crap and doing ugly things. ABP is a good tool, and most of us techy type folk are likely using that or some variant. Even ABP is going down the path of least *cough*financial*cough resistance... Google certainly don't want to loose revenue to other advertnets but I suspect that they will clean up a few plugins that are likely doing more than just injecting adverts.

    <removes *very* long rant about how the internet has changed the way we do business in this world>

    I'm calling today RantDay instead of thursday.

  11. Mr Templedene

    My problem with ad injectors is that my own website, my business, my bread and butter, carry no ads.

    An ad injector will be context sensitive, so it will put ads on my pages which will be for rival businesses of a similar nature, and worst of all, I will never know it's happening.

    How can I protect my own sites from having adverts placed in them by these obnoxious apps?

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Bah!

      You can't. All you can do is have a tag to "Our Ad Policy" stating that you do not use advertising, and that anything the user is seeing is the product of after-market display tampering over which you have no control.

      Then you hint broadly at the ethics of anyone relying on such tactics using phrases like "it is not for us to say" and "though the motives of this tactic cannot be reduced to the general case" and all your competitors are painted as villains without your saying so.

    2. Old Handle

      I would think you could put some javascript on your site to check if they layout has been messed with (presumably to insert ads).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People tinkering with the authorised adverts, behavoural tracking, etc

    It's Phorm time, folks. Or has seasonal adjustment of my clock gone wrong?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gave up Google Chrome

    About six months ago, due to miserable performance in my very slow DSL environment, and several barely-thwarted security attacks (and one suspected bot that two experts have been unable to dislodge). Back to IE, slow but sturdy. Not going back until I am assured that Chrome is clean, and so is my computer. I am not tech-savvy, so I am a late-adopter and very cautious.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gave up Google Chrome

      For safety's sake *please* don't use IE.

      As Chrome isn't working for you, how about Firefox? It's not perfect by a long stretch, but it's fairly decent.

      And a much, much _safer_ option for general end use than IE.

    2. DryBones
      Holmes

      Re: Gave up Google Chrome

      Erm...

      Miserable performance in your very slow DSL environment seems it might be due to your very slow DSL environment?

      Stop using IE, add the ScriptSafe plugin to Chrome, and start using the content white-listing it enables you to do. Firefox's is called ScriptNo, NoScript, something like that

      Have the experts used MalwareBytes Anti-Malware from a safe boot with networking support(F5)?

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