Most people are of two minds about ads in our web browser. Pretty much everyone hates them, while a small minority hates them but accepts their necessity as a business model. Google is about to issue a big blow to the latter: Starting in February, its Chrome browser will start blocking ads on its own.
Chrome is the most popular browser in the world; more than 60 percent of desktop users got online with it in the last month. That's why it's such a big deal that Google has partnered with a group called the Coalition for Better Ads. Using CBA data, Chrome will block the most disruptive, aggravating, and pointless ads on the web and on your phone. That includes ads that take up most of the page, ads that won't go away until a timer runs out, pop-up ads, and ads that automatically play music or video.
If you're a business owner who relies on ad revenue, you might be panicking right now. But there are caveats to the new program — and a catch. Ads are graded, and only those judged "failing" should be blocked. Anything that lives up to CBA's Better Ad Standards would still make it through to viewers and potential customers. That said, businesses will pay a fee to "volunteer" for CBA certification. The standards are strict too — one instance of a bad ad triggers a failing grade.
Both Google and CBA caution that this is a work in progress. For an ad-revenue landscape already struggling with the proliferation of ad blockers, this will require more work and ingenuity. For the rest of us, however, tooling around online might be a lot less annoying in 2018.