You may block heavy ads in Google Chrome natively now

Google announced plans in 2019 to do something about what it calls heavy ads in the company’s Chrome web browser. The effort complements other targeted ad-blocking implementations in Chrome that it launched earlier.

Advertisement on the web needs to meet at least one of the following criteria to be considered heavy:

  • Use more than 4 Megabytes of network bandwidth.
  • Use the main thread for more than 15 seconds in any 30 second window.
  • Use the main thread for more than 60 seconds in total.

In other words: any advertisement (including all its descendant frames) that uses too much CPU or network bandwidth. Any ad that meets at least one of the criteria is considered heavy if the user has not interact with it already. Google Chrome will block ads in the browser once they are identified as heavy.

heavy ad blocking chrome

The company notes:

In order to save our users’ batteries and data plans, and provide them with a good experience on the web, Chrome will limit the resources a display ad can use before the user interacts with the ad. When an ad reaches its limit, the ad’s frame will navigate to an error page, informing the user that the ad has used too many resources.

Google reveals how it came to define heavy ads. According to Google, the company looked at the “most egregious ads” and set the thresholds accordingly. About 0.3% of advertisement on the web exceeds Google’s limits today but these account for 27% of network data and 28% of CPU usage of all advertisement according to the company.

Google wants to launch the ad intervention in August in Chrome stable. Chrome users can enable the feature already in Chrome in the following way:

  1. Load chrome://flags/#enable-heavy-ad-intervention in the browser’s address bar.
  2. Set the flag to Enabled.
  3. Load chrome://flags/#heavy-ad-privacy-mitigations in the browser’s address bar.
  4. Set the flag to Disabled.
  5. Restart Chrome.

Chrome will block ads that meet the criteria for heavy ads after the restart.

Closing Words

Google is trying to make advertisement on the web more tolerable by fighting against abusive ad formats, publishers and advertising companies. One of the hopes is that users who don’t use ad-blockers yet will not be tempted to switch to extensions or services that block advertisement because the nastiest advertisements are blocked by the browser.

As far as heavy ads are concerned, it needs to be noted that these are blocked only after they reach one of the thresholds in the browser and not before.

Publishers and advertising companies can check out this technical article that provides details on how to analyze ads and resolve the situation.

Google announced in February 2020 that it plans to block annoying video ads in Chrome as well.

Now You: What is your take on the latest incentive in this regard?

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