Chrome to block resource-depleting ads

Dive Brief:

  • Google’s desktop and mobile web browser Chrome will begin blocking ads in August that use too much of an end user’s device resources, a move to improve user experience, Google revealed in a blog post.
  • Chrome will begin limiting ads that require a lot of battery power or network data from end users, inline with Better Ads Standards for desktop and mobile web from the Coalition for Better Ads. Under the new standards, ads must not exceed 4MB of network data or 15 seconds of CPU usage in any 30 second period, or 60 seconds of total CPU usage.
  • Currently only 0.3% of ads exceed the threshold, but these ads make up 27% of overall network data used by ads and 28% of all ad CPU usage, according to the blog post. The company plans to experiment over the next few months before the intervention is launched around the end of August. The timeline is aimed at helping advertisers prepare for the new limitations.

Dive Insight:

While Google has experienced some negative impact from the coronavirus pandemic in the form of declining ad revenue, internet use overall is growing as a result of the health crisis, putting Google — with its dominant search engine and web browser — in a strong position to support its business as the world starts to emerge from the crisis. In this light, the move to block resource-heavy ads can be seen as one designed to increase value for users without putting a big dent into the company’s ad revenue.

As Google’s blog post points out, the majority of advertisers will not face any issues, as a miniscule 0.3% of ads are actually blocked. However, since these ads take up 27% of network usage and 28% of CPU usage, Google will likely improve the user experience in a positive way by blocking advertisers that use these cumbersome and heavy ad formats.​

“We have recently discovered that a fraction of a percent of ads consume a disproportionate share of device resources, such as battery and network data, without the user knowing about it,” the blog post reads. “These ads (such as those that mine cryptocurrency, are poorly programmed, or are unoptimized for network usage) can drain battery life, saturate already strained networks, and cost money.”

Google’s move to limit the size of display ads that run on its Chrome platform comes in response to the company’s participation in the industry group Coalition for Better Ads. The association works to provide an ecosystem of better user experiences, so as to avoid a bad reputation for online ads.

Chrome currently blocks ads on websites that display non-compliant ads and “abusive experiences.”

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