Google, the internet’s biggest advertising company, may be building an ad blocker.
The search giant plans to roll out a feature in the next mobile version of its Chrome browser that would filter out certain types of ads, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Such a tool seems at odds with the company’s primary revenue source, but Google thinks that it could actually deter people from resorting to other blockers in the long run, according to the report.
By targeting only the most disruptive ad formats pop-ups, interstitials, and autoplay videos, for instance the hope is that less people will be driven to third-party software. Google already ostensibly bans many of these types of ads anyway.
Regardless, the move would no doubt cause controversy among an industry locked in a fierce battle with the growing tide of ad-blocking software.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau, an industry trade group of which Google is a member, has likened the cottage industry of ad-blocking companies to “highway robbery,” “terrorists,” and “inner city crack dealers” on various occasions.
An ad blocker could also bolster Google’s already-enormous power in the digital ads market, on which it and Facebook currently have a duopoly. Were it to be widely adopted, the company would also be the arbiter of all ads people see.
There’s a good chance that sort of arrangement would catch the attention of antitrust regulators, however.
Google reportedly plans to base its filter on the standards for non-intrusive advertising set by the Coalition for Better Advertising.
While desktop ad blocking continues to grow in popularity worldwide, its mobile form has yet to catch on much outside of Asia.
Google Chrome is the top mobile browser in the world with a market share of a little more than half.