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​Dealing with ads on the internet

by Chuck Solly | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Culture | February 28th, 2018

Hey, Chrome users! Did you load the Ad Blocker Chrome extension that I told you about in last weeks column? It really works well!

I have a tendency to roam on the Internet for an hour or so every day. This gets me to sites that have lots, and I mean lots, of advertising. The Chrome browser has eliminated those annoying pop-up ads that interrupt my reading. There is also no more auto playing video ads. This is wonderful!

That is not to say that the blocker blocks ALL ads. It does not. It only blocks the really annoying ones. Annoying ads are defined by a committee of industry professionals. They evidently have done a good job.

We’ll see if the advertising companies find a way around it, but for now, it is a pleasure reading some web pages that really interest me. After enabling the extension, look in the upper right corner of the browser window and you should see an icon that looks like a small white hand in a stop sign. When you load a site with a lot of ads, a number will appear over the hand showing how many ads have been blocked on that site. You can turn the blocker off using the icon.

When Google decides that a site hosts ads that go against these guidelines, it’ll block all ads on a given site. It’s worth noting that while Google made some modifications to those rules, it doesn’t exempt its own ad networks from this exercise. If a site is in violation, ads from AdSense and DoubleClick (Google ad networks) will also be blocked.

Chances are that you’ll see a bit of a performance boost on sites where ads are being blocked. That’s not my focus here, though, and Google says it’s at best a secondary effect. Some early ad blockers also had some issues with excessive memory usage that sometimes slowed down the browser.

Google admits that there is some memory overhead here to hold the blocking list in memory, but even on mobile, that’s a negligible amount.

It’s worth noting that the recommendations of the Coalition for Better Ads, the industry professionals mentioned above, focus on North America and Western Europe. Because of this, those are also the regions where the ad filtering will go live first.

Google, however, is not classifying sites by where the individual Chrome user is coming from. Instead, it’s looking at where the majority of a site’s visitors come from. So if a user from India visits a site in Germany where ads are being blocked, that user won’t see ads even if the filtering isn’t live for Indian sites.

Google said that 42 percent of publishers that were in violation have already moved to other ads. Of course, that means the majority of sites that Google warned about this issue did not take any action yet, but they expect that many will do so once they see the impact of this.

In Google’s view, publishers have to take responsibility for the ads they show and take control of their ad inventory. “The publisher can decide which ad networks to do business with but ultimately for us, the users, by navigating to a specific site, they enter a relationship with that site”. “We do think it’s the responsibility of the site owner to take ownership of that relationship.”

Still, so far, it looks like Chrome will only block just less than one percent of all ads — something that will make some publishers breathe a sigh of relief and scare others. For users, though, this can only be a good thing in the long run.

As for you mobile users, prestitial ads appear on a mobile page before content has loaded, blocking the user from continuing on to the content they have sought out. These pop-ups vary in size from full-screen to part of the screen. They may also appear as a standalone page that prevents users from getting to the main content. Very annoying.

Do not pay for any ad-blocking extensions in the Google extension list. As I mentioned last week, Google’s ad blocker is free. I have not investigated the Firefox browser yet. That will be in a future column.

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