Chrome Browser to Get Ad-Blocker

John Lister's picture

Google is testing a built-in ad blocker for the Chrome browser. It's prompted a mixed response with some fears of a conflict of interest.

The company had previously talked about adding an ad blocker as a built-in feature in Chrome, rather than the optional extensions that are already available from third-parties. Now the feature is being tested in the Dev and Canary version of Chrome.

These are special versions where user get early access to features but with the knowledge that they may have performance flaws at this stage. It would be extremely unusual for Google not to later go ahead and roll the ad blocker out to all users, but this may be several months down the line.

Only 'Intrusive' Ads Blocked

There's a big difference with Google's ad blocker. Most such tools will block all ads by default and then let users manually "whitelist" a site to see ads, for example, when they appreciate a particular site and want to help it out financially.

The Google version shows ads by default and instead blocks on a case-by-case basis. Google says it will "filter out certain online ad types deemed to provide bad experiences for users as they move around the web" but isn't going into specifics.

In the test versions, the ad blocker tool is switched off completely by default and users have to actively choose to use it. That may not be the case in the final version.

Google May Block Own Ads

Online advertising groups are currently trying to figure out exactly how an ad gets picked to be blocked. Naturally Google doesn't want this known as it could let sites find ways to avoid the filter and set off a cat-and-mouse game. One theory is that Google might target ads that appear at a large fixed size and thus cause pages to appear messed up on mobile device screens. (Source:

As a general guideline, Google says it will block ads that breach standards produced by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group of which it's a member. (Source:

The big question is how Google balances helping customers by blocking intrusive ads with the fact that a large part of its business comes from selling space for targeted ads. Google does say the tool will block ads that breach the standards, even if they are delivered by Google itself.

What's Your Opinion?

Is Google right to have an ad blocker built-in to Chrome? Do you trust it to deal with the potential conflict of interest? What do you consider to be an "intrusive" ad?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I guarantee other ad agencies are going to complain that Google is blocking their ads in favor of Google ads. It may not happen right away, but this is essentially the same argument used in Google Shopping. In this case, Google ads were placed above other ads, giving favor to Google services. That mistake cost Google 2.7 billion dollars - but I'm willing to bet it was a drop in the bucket for revenue incurred during that time!