Google Chrome to block ads that drain your battery and gobble network data

A Google Chrome lapel pin

Google Chrome will start blocking heavyweight ads in August.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

To improve battery life, network usage and website speed, Chrome will delete ads that consume too many computing resources, Google said Thursday. Google will begin experimenting with the technology in coming months and plans to build it into Chrome in August, Google said in a blog post Thursday.

The move will excise only the worst ad offenders, including those that consume more than 4 megabytes of network data and those that occupy the browser’s main computing process for more than 60 seconds total or for 15 seconds of any 30-second period, Google said. Offenders will be replaced by a notice that says “ad removed.” One type of ad that should be hit are those that use your computing hardware to mine cryptocurrency, Google said.

Google’s new ad intervention reflects a growing effort by browser makers to override website instructions and to try to fix problems that can degrade the web. Brave blocks ads by default, Vivaldi now offers ad blocking as an option, and Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla take various measures to block ads from tracking you online and infringe privacy.

Advertisers may not be happy with the changes, but many of us are taking even more aggressive actions than what browsers do by default. Ad blockers are increasingly common, now on mobile devices as well as personal computers. Other extensions block ad tracking, too.

The action will target ads Google discovered are the worst offenders in exceeding Google’s limits. “While only 0.3% of ads exceed this threshold today, they account for 27% of network data used by ads and 28% of all ad CPU usage,” Marshall Vale, a Chrome program manager, said in a blog post.

Tools to test ads

Google offers a heavy ad test site so advertisers can check if their ads will work. The company also published instructions on tweaking Chrome to block the heavyweight ads now.

Google, which relies on online ads for the bulk of its revenue, said in 2016 that Chrome wouldn’t block ads. But it had a change of heart and in 2018 started blocking ads on websites that used too many in the judgment of Google and an allied industry effort, the Coalition for Better Ads

Microsoft’s new Edge browser, based on the same Google Chromium project Chrome uses, also has moved to block intrusive ads.

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