The native ad blocker Google developed for its Chrome browser will start hiding certain content by default starting February 15th, the Internet giant said Tuesday. Beginning on that date, websites that display ads in violation of the Better Ads Experience Program announced by the Coalition for Better Ads will have all of their advertising blocked by Chrome, including ads owned by Google and served by its own advertising platform. The sanctions themselves won’t be imminent and will instead only go into force if a violation has been reported and manually confirmed, after which the website responsible for the identified transgression(s) failed to eliminate the problematic ad units within 30 days of being notified about the issue. Once the reasons behind the “Failing” status given by the Ad Experience Report have been addressed, websites will be able to apply for another review and return to the Chrome’s whitelist.
While Google claims the sole purpose of its ad blocker is to provide Chrome users with a better browsing experience, the fact that the company behind by far the most dominant Internet search engine and the largest digital advertising network on the planet is launching an ad blocker for the most widely used browser in the world raised some antitrust concerns among a number of regulators, especially since the Mountain View-based company exerts a lot of influence over the Coalition for Better Ads and its definition of “better.” Google remains adamant that websites serving legitimate ads won’t be affected by the feature and only those who opt for truly intrusive advertising are set to be sanctioned. That approach is unlikely to land the tech giant in any trouble with antitrust regulators since it’s essentially also reducing its own revenue in order to force publishers into employing more user-friendly ad units.
In the long term, the goal of Chrome’s built-in ad blocker is to serve as a pre-installed alternative to third-party blockers and eat into their popularity, ultimately reducing the total volume of blocked advertising on the World Wide Web. Google often criticized complete ad-blocking solutions for threatening the sustainability of websites that are free to access and depend on advertising revenue to stay afloat while serving ads that do not detract from the overall user experience. The built-in ad blocker is understood to be going live early next year across all Chrome versions and platforms, Android included.