Google is said to be developing an ad blocker for its Chrome web browser. Sounds weird, right? Google makes most of its money through advertising, so why would the company start blocking ads by default in what’s arguably the world’s most widely used web browser?
According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s a self-defense move.
The thing is, a lot of people are already using third-party ad blockers. Google is hoping that by blocking just the ads people hate the most, it can convince you not to install one of those block-all-advertising tools.
This could be a win-win: users get a better web experience, and Google gets to keep making money from ads. But while the move could convince some people not to install an ad blocker, I have a hard time believing it’ll convince any existing users to stop using content blocking plugins.
Once upon a time, pop-ups were some of the most annoying ads you could find. These days most web browsers have some sort of pop-up blocking function.
But there are other types of ads people find annoying, such as interstitials (the full-screen ads that hide a page for a set period of time before it loads), or ads that automatically play audio or video as a page loads.
The WSJ reports Google’s ad blocking tools would take aim at those ads… which are probably some of the ads that currently drive people to install plugins like Adblock Plus or uBlock. But a funny thing happens when you install one of those plugins: not only do you not see annoying ads (or any ads at all), but web pages also tend to load a lot more quickly and look less cluttered.
Sure, there’s a chance that some non-ad content might be affected. But many people who install an ad blocker find it hard to go back, especially when you consider the fact that many ads also track your personal data and some have even been used to deliver malware.
As someone who makes a living primarily through online advertising revenue, I don’t typically use an ad blocker. But I totally understand why someone would. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing what Google can deliver: it sounds like a perfect solution for someone like me.
I do worry a bit that a tool which is ostensibly designed to only affect “bad” ads could eventually be used as a weapon (maybe any ad that’s not served by Google is bad?). But a partial ad-blocker built into the web browser I’ve been using for years? That sounds like a good idea.
I know many of you are loyal users of plugins that block all ads (except for sites you whitelist, like this one, of course). Would a web browser with native blocking of just some ads convince you to give up your plugins?
Or have you passed the point of no return?
And would you have maybe considered not installing those plugins in the first place if Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera had tackled interstitials and auto-playing ads as aggressively as they had pop-ups back in the day?
Also, this is as good a time as any to remind you that if you do use an ad blocker on this site, but would like to support Liliputing in some way, please consider making a monthly contribution to our Patreon campaign. Pledges of as little as $1 are much appreciated, and you can cancel or modify your pledge amount at any time.