Google's Working on a 'Heavy Ad' Blocker for Chrome

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A good bartender knows when to cut someone off. That's usually good for the patron in question--even if they wouldn't agree--but it's also good for the bartender. Letting people overindulge can lead to unnecessary messes, frustrated customers and unwanted attention from the authorities. Google might be taking a similar approach, reportedly developing a "heavy ad" blocker for Chrome that knows when enough is enough.

9to5Google reported yesterday that the Chromium team has begun work on this new ad blocker for the Chrome browser. (And presumably the Edge browser Microsoft's building on top of Chromium, too.) That might sound odd, considering Google's entire business model relies on selling ads to other companies, but it actually seems like a last-ditch effort to stop people from blocking ads themselves.

Ads have become a necessary evil for many companies. They're necessary because many people don't want to pay for online services and can be seen as 'evil' because they often make the browsing experience worse. Companies invade people's privacy to offer more relevant ads, come up with new ways to make those ads occupy as much of the viewer's attention as possible and try to evade attempts to block them.

Some organizations, like Mozilla and Brave, have responded to this ad-pocalypse by automatically blocking as many ads as possible in their browsers. That isn't an option for Chrome, but tens of millions of people have downloaded extensions like uBlock Origin, Ghostery, AdBlock Plus and others right from the Chrome Web Store.

Ad blockers can help protect their users' privacy, enhance performance on websites and improve the browsing experience. So now Google appears ready to offer Chrome users a compromise. The browser will reportedly block some of those particularly resource-intensive ads, sure, but it will allow the ones the company deems okay to continue to be shown. 

Will that be enough to placate all Chrome users? No. Some people don't want to see a single ad while they browse, whether it's because they value their privacy too much or simply want to view a website as it was meant to be viewed. They're going to continue to use ad blockers that keep as much of that stuff away as they can. They don't want ads decreased; they want them thrown out.

For everyone else, though, this feature should make make browsing the web a bit more bearable. That could be good for the browser's users, good for Google and good for the companies that don't need their ads to be resource hogs. We won't know for sure until this new bartender starts its shifts. According to 9to5Mac, Google just started work on the feature, so it's unlikely to debut before the release of Chrome 80 (we're currently at Chrome 78).

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • hotaru251
    "resource intensive ads" from a browser that is a ram glutton xD
  • hotaru251 said:
    "resource intensive ads" from a browser that is a ram glutton xD
    hahahaha, yes it's a huge resource hog.
  • derekullo
    Noscript already exists for both Firefox and Chrome ...

    I guess it blocks too much for Google's tastes.
  • Olle P
    I think this is a great idea and not a day too soon!
    While I'm no fan of ads, I do accept that content providers need some sort of income. Therefore I accept ads as long as they're not too annoying and resource heavy ads are some of the worst!

    Once, more than ten years ago, I was shown an ad (in many places at once on one site page) that had a GIF-image switching between blue and white at about one-second interval. It was like having a flashlight blinking in my face while trying to read the text next to it. I checked out what company it was an ad for, not clicking the ad, and went to their web site to find contact info. Then I sent an email directly to their head of marketing, telling what I thought about that ad. That ad was gone within a few hours!