Google to block ads that use too many system resources starting August 2020

New "Heavy Ad Intervention" will save battery life and network bandwidth usage on mobile data plans.

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Google plans to add a mechanism to the Chrome browser that detects and unloads ads that consume too many system resources, such as network bandwidth and CPU processing power.

The new anti-heavy ad intervention system is scheduled to go live at the end of August, with the release of Chrome 86.

According to Google, an ad is considered heavy if the user has not interacted with it (for example, has not tapped or clicked it) and it meets any of the following criteria:

  • Uses more than 4 MB of network bandwidth
  • Uses more than 60 seconds of total CPU power
  • Uses more than 15 seconds in any 30-second window of total CPU power

Ads that break any of these rules will be unloaded from the current page, and Chrome will show an error like the one below.

unloaded-slot.png

Image: Google

Google began working on this feature in July 2019. The feature is currently only available in Chrome Canary distributions, where users can enable it by visiting the following URL:

chrome://flags/#enable-heavy-ad-intervention

As the release date for Chrome 86 gets nearer, the feature will be added to Chrome Beta, and then to the main Chrome release, where it will be enabled by default, for both desktop and mobile devices.

In a blog post today, Google said it began working on the feature to protect user devices. The company said that heavy ads "can drain battery life, saturate already strained networks, and cost money."

Furthermore, heavy ads are also against the principles of Better Ads Standards, an ad industry group that has issued guidelines for user-friendly ads, which Google began implementing in Chrome in 2018.

Google said that according to current telemetry, only 0.3% of ads exceed the thresholds for heavy ads published today. Nonetheless, despite the small number, these heavy ads account for roughly 27% of all network data used by ads inside Chrome, and 28% of all ad CPU usage.

Once Chrome will start unloading heavy ads, the company expects Chrome to also work much faster and prolonged battery life, on both mobiles and desktops. Ad partners and website operators can find more information about the feature on this Google support page.

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