Chrome Will Block Resource-Heavy Ads Starting in August


We’ve always known that online ads ate some degree of battery life and that misbehaving ads can have a disproportionate impact on the end-user experience, but a recent Chrome blog post drives home just how big the tail on the problem really is.

According to Google’s research, it’s a tiny fraction of ads that ruin everything for everybody else. 0.3 percent of ads account for 27 percent of all of the network bandwidth and 28 percent of the total CPU usage Google measured.

Google’s tests on resource consumption

Moving forward, the company is going to curtail how much processing power advertisements will be able to access. According to Google, it didn’t set the filters to run with a light touch — the overwhelming majority of existing web ads comply with the standards the company has set. Ads may not transfer more than 4MB of data or use more than 15 seconds of CPU time within any given 30 second period, and may not use more than 60 seconds of CPU time in total.

This feature makes perfect sense for multiple reasons. As written, Chrome’s blog implies it could prevent some kinds of cryptocurrency malware from running, which is an obvious win. Even outside apps that hijack the browser this overtly, ads that consume huge amounts of network bandwidth or slow the machine to the point that it feels like a single-core Atom are scarcely paragons of web design. You tend to hit these pain points much less these days than back when JavaScript-enabled Angelfire pages ruled and walked the Earth, but it’s no less annoying to encounter them now than it was then.

This is another in a series of fairly conspicuous user-friendly changes Google has introduced to Chrome in the recent past. Last year, Google began automatically blocking disruptive ads. Back in November 2018, it took action to demonetize sites that ran “consistently deceptive” ads in an effort to protect users from sites that trap them in an endless series of clickjacking redirects.

Google intends to experiment with these changes and then slipstream them into stable Chrome by the end of August. The goal is to give tool creators and advertisers enough time to prepare for the debut and to tweak their own advertisements to avoid falling under Google’s bar. From the sound of things, very little legitimate web traffic may be impacted, and the web traffic that has to be updated could likely use it in any case.

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