According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Google is planing to introduce a ad-block feature to Chrome.
By targeting only the most disruptive ad formats - pop-ups, interstitials, and autoplay videos, for instance - the hope is that less people will be driven to third-party software. It would automatically block those ads that Google finds unacceptable.
But why would a company that makes billions on advertising add a feature to its own free product that would block advertising? It's also a concern for other online publishers and services that rely on advertising revenue to support their businesses, many of which work with Google to help sell advertising space on their properties.
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As a company who's yearly profits are very much derived from selling advertising, Google has an interest in ensuring that advertising is an effective tool, not an annoying experience that forces users to use ad-blockers.
Chrome held 54% of the browser market share worldwide in April 2017 on desktop and mobile combined, according to StatCounter, followed by Safari with 12.4%; UC Browser 9%; Firefox, 8%; and Edge, 2%. Its closest competitor is Safari with 14 percent and the rest are struggling with single digits. However, it's cautioned that Google could still decide to scrap this project. Additionally, unlike AdBlock, Chrome's plugin may not take all ads from a site, but just keep them unobtrusive to the user, thus still generating revenue and giving the user a positive experience. But that also raises some alarm bells when it comes to Google's consolidation of power in this situation.
If implemented correctly, this feature wouldn't just benefit Google. While nothing is certain as of now, if Google is indeed trying to bring out such a feature, it could either spell doom for other ad providers, or it would be Google saying "foot, meet axe". In those cases, companies like Google may have to pay to get their ads exempted from the filters, something it could do for free with its own solution. Considering that most of the world's major websites live and die based on ads (including this one), this is an effort to save the web as we know it.