back to article Better late than never... Google Chrome to kill off 'tiny' number of mobile web ads that gobble battery, CPU power

Google is preparing to starve resource-hungry ads that drain mobile device batteries and consume network resources. Come August, Chrome will exile what it calls "heavy ads" from the browser window, in the hope fewer users will be vexed by malicious, buggy, or overly demanding pitches. "We have recently discovered that a …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So nice of you, Google

    Unfortunately, there is now a browser that simply does not allow ads. It's called Brave. And it is at least three times as fast as Chrome.

    You can do your little bit on the side, but I am done using Chrome on my mobile phone. Brave gets me the page I want without any useless clutter, and it does so in record time.

    You're history, Google.

    1. Mike Shepherd
      Meh

      Re: So nice of you, Google

      But when I search for "Brave" in the Play Store, it warns "Contains ads".

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: So nice of you, Google

        What? Why trust what Google says now?

      2. Throgmorton Horatio III

        Re: So nice of you, Google

        I used Brave for a while on the (android) phone. After each session and ad would appear in a notification bar at the top of the screen.

        Vivaldi seems just as fast and I haven't noticed any ads.

  2. doublelayer Silver badge

    Recently

    "We have recently discovered that a fraction of a percent of ads consume a disproportionate share of device resources, such as battery and network data, without the user knowing about it," (Marshall Vale)

    This is great news. It isn't that Google just doesn't care and will allow anything through as long as they stand to get some money out of it. They just have a six to eight-year latency period on realizing really obvious things. And here was I thinking that they were ignoring these things on purpose. Fantastic, really. If this pattern holds, we might see the following headlines in the future:

    2020: Google recently discovered that Android updates are important, and they need to do something to ensure people get them where they punish noncompliant manufacturers.

    2021: Google recently found out that malware embedded in ads is concerning.

    2022: Google has become aware following a bit of research that Android users would like extra security in their mobile operating system.

    2023: Google recently discovered that, if you have a motto that tells you not to be evil, and you cancel that motto, it sounds really bad.

    2024: Google realized not long ago that people seem to care a bit about their privacy.

    2025: It has come to Google's attention that people are worried about their copying of certain information without compensating the people they copied it off, and maybe someone should come up with a method that uses neither the crazy suggestions of the original publishers or of Google.

    2026: Google has come to the conclusion that becoming the market leader in product obsolescence might not be the nicest thing to do to their customers.

  3. IGotOut Silver badge

    So what about...

    the crap, slow JavaScript this ads run?

    Less than 4mb...check

    Not much bandwidth..check.

    CPU resourcesiw...check

    30 seconds to report back to mothership, match those IDs, track , locate and then serve "enhanced user experience"....yeah we'll ignore that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what about...

      A "user experience" is what you get after eight pints of heavy and a vindaloo chaser

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bugger AdBlock, it's Internet advertising that's theft.

    If the mailman tried to charge you for giving you an unfranked letter and you discovered it was just advertising crap, you'd be pretty pissed.

    If you were persuaded to accept a reverse charge phone call, only to find out that it was a telesales pitch, you would also be highly pissed.

    So why does Google et al expect me to willingly spaff my data allowance or, indeed, paid for data, on content that turns out to be advertising?

    1. rmacd

      Re: Bugger AdBlock, it's Internet advertising that's theft.

      I've often thought about sticking everything through a proxy for accurately logging everything and then totting up the data at the end of the month.

      Call me old school, but I do £10 for 3GB mobile data and it's pretty much only for emails and emergencies.

      Anything from *.doubleclick.net? That would be invoiced to Google as a proportion of the £10 for the month.

    2. Drew Scriver Silver badge

      Re: Bugger AdBlock, it's Internet advertising that's theft.

      In all fairness to Google, you're conflating data/bandwidth (which you and they both pay for) and the use of a product.

      Browsers carries a significant cost to an organization, not to mention their network expenditures. Secondly, you're consuming content that you presumably not not compensating the provider for monetarily.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Bugger AdBlock, it's Internet advertising that's theft.

        That point is relevant, and I imagine you'll find many who won't accept it, but the analogy still applies. In the case of a collect call from a telemarketing system, they are undoubtedly paying for the line capacity, the phone, the person talking, and for any call where the other party doesn't accept the charges. That fact doesn't make the theoretical practice any less odious. In occasions where the data usage is very extreme, I think there's reasonable grounds for complaint. Not that it would do anything, but nonetheless reasonable.

    3. Tony W

      Re: Bugger AdBlock, it's Internet advertising that's theft.

      I am astonished at the number of upvotes here, I thought The Register had a technically savvy readership. Does it really have to be explained that it is the web site owner who gives Google and others the right to place ads? In many cases, the resulting revenue is all that pays for the content. You could argue (and many do) that using an adblocker is theft. If you don't iike the ads, don't visit the site.

      Having said that, I use Vivaldi browser with adblocker enabled for most sites. This is partly pure selfishness, and partly an anti-malware move.

  5. Richard 12 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    How about no execution whatsoever?

    There is no legitimate reason whatsoever for an advert to serve or execute any code at all of any kind.

    A legitimate advert may contain text, an image or short video clip and one or more hyperlinks.

    Anything else is an inexcusable unauthorized use of my computer, as defined in the Computer Misuse Act.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: How about no execution whatsoever?

      No video clips.

      No autoplaying videos whatsoever unless I give the site permission for them. I’d give the likes of YouTube permission.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: How about no execution whatsoever?

        No autoplaying videos, but if they want to embed a clip into the ad so I can choose to view it after reading their text, that's fine. I won't be doing it, but it's fine if they choose to. HTML5 has support for it already, so I have no problem killing their JS rights.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Jolyon Ralph

      Re: How about no execution whatsoever?

      I came to post something similar to this, although I disagree that the Computer Misuse act would cover it because inevitably you are agreeing to Google dumping crap on your system by using the sites that have the ads installed.

      As usual, Google are doing something about this not because they are keen to "do no evil", but because they're losing ad-revenue because more and more frustrated people are installing ad-blockers.

  6. Hstubbe

    I'll stick to firefox thanks

    Yeah, I'll stick to firefox with ublock origin, thank you very much google. It's simply too little, too late.

    1. Cave-Homme

      Re: I'll stick to firefox thanks

      FF even without ublock or adblock is a great experience these days compared to Chrome, just go into settings and set tracking protection to strict. Blocks cryptominers and other such nefarious crap too.

      1. stiine Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: I'll stick to firefox thanks

        No, its not.

        1) pocket

        2) inability to remove zoom percentage from address bar

        3) inability to concurrently disable search in the address bar and hide the search bar

        4) ALT-V-Z-R no longer resets zoom, like it had for the last decade.

        etc.

        1. MarkTriumphant

          Re: I'll stick to firefox thanks

          1) So don't use it. I don't.

          2) Fairy Nuff, although I like it.

          3) Why would you want to do that? However, if that's what you want, I can't disagree.

          4) So use Alt-V-Z-A. Sadly these things change. It's not particularly difficult, though.

    2. Screwed

      Re: I'll stick to firefox thanks

      Until the end of last year, my broadband was so poor, I had no choice but to run an ad blocker. Without doing so, I was effectively unable to use much of the web - on desktop or phone. My attention would wander to watching the cat sleeping as it was more dynamic.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: I'll stick to firefox thanks

      and don't forget 'NoScript'

  7. AlexV
    WTF?

    Look at the size of those thresholds!

    So according to Google the threshold is 4MB traffic, 15/30s CPU, or 60sCPU total?

    Which means, lets be generous, that an ad that weighs in at 2MB, and consumes 10s of CPU every 30s for 3 minutes is just fine? Because to me, that seems quite high. I would regard about 10KB, 1s CPU total to be a reasonable limit for what an ad should be allowed to consume, unless I explicitly interact with it.

    1. Horridbloke

      Re: Look at the size of those thresholds!

      It gets better... I think those thresholds are for a single ad. So presumably a page containing a dozen of these, requiring say 40MB of network data and completely choking the CPU for several minutes would be tolerated?

      Nah. My data quota, phone battery life and my actual life is worth more than that.

  8. big_D Silver badge

    Static image / text

    If it is a static image or text, with no associated JavaScript, you can show an ad in my browser, otherwise you can get stuffed.

  9. Elledan Bronze badge

    I went back to Web 1.0

    Back around 2000 when I was fiddling about with web development, there was no real use of JavaScript worth speaking of. Us web designers were in the midst of moving to CSS-based styling (and layout, sanity permitting) and any ads that were around were text or image-based. Most of us designers even optimised any images, trying to shave off a few more bytes so that it'd load half a second faster over a 56k dial-up connection.

    Move forward by twenty years, and optimising for file size as well as overall accessibility (websites that break fully without JS enabled, and do not work well with screenreaders etc. when it is) have been tossed out of the window. Want to browse the web with a dial-up modem? At blistering 2-4 kB/s, that 2 MB page (even with some cached data) is going to take ~34 seconds at an average speed of 3 kB/s. Optimistically, that's you waiting under a minute for a single page.

    But who is using 56k dial-up these days, you ask? Roughly 2 million Americans, for one: https://www.dailydot.com/debug/dvd-rental-windows-3-aol-2017/

    Even though I have had access to a fast broadband connection for many years now, I still do not appreciate the way that pages have bloated up, the myriad of JavaScript pop-ups and JavaScript-based ads. The JavaScript-based reloading and changing of the page while it's loading, causing the browser to re-render and re-render it multiple times, which causes the fun 'skipping around' effect one sees on pages these days.

    These days I am using a non-commercial browser (Pale Moon), with JavaScript enabled per website address (NoScript) and ads fully blocked (uBlock Origin). I have tried to go back to just using the web again like I used to in the past, even with just a bit of ad-blocking to weed out the worst offenders, but the degradation in overall usability is shocking. Ironically, using glitched-out websites due to no JS and missing stacks of ads making the layout collapse is still a better user experience than the other way around.

    Really makes one wonder where things will go from here. Moving the rendering engine out of the browser and into JavaScript, so that it is 'always up to date'?

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: I went back to Web 1.0

      The median desktop web page now tops 2MB

      I remember a guideline, not that many years ago, that home pages should be less than 40kB.

      And despite having insanely fast FTTP (300Mbps) pages still take an age to load - the bottleneck now seems to be in the network/servers/DNS - dozens of connections to load a page, many of them libraries and adverts.

      Bring back WAP phones! (Just kidding)

      1. Elledan Bronze badge

        Re: I went back to Web 1.0

        I still feel bad for having a 100+ kB JPEG header image on my personal website. Probably bloats up the first page load to a grand total of 160 kB or so, including the bit of CSS. Not a single line of JavaScript, of course. Any scripting that needs doing can be done with CSS as well, which saves a lot of space and CPU cycles :)

  10. Jim Whitaker

    That's not the real point.

    I block ads to the maximum extent possible because I hate ads. The background waste of resource - shrug.

  11. Steve K Silver badge

    Devil in the detail...?

    An ad will not be deemed "heavy" if the user has interacted with it.

    The devil is in the detail.....

    What if I interacted with it while trying to close it down/trying to find its cunningly-concealed close or mute button as it has hogged the entire window of my device? Counts as an interaction so "heavy" ad OK?

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Devil in the detail...?

      What if I interacted with it while trying to close it down/trying to find its cunningly-concealed close or mute button as it has hogged the entire window of my device? Counts as an interaction so "heavy" ad OK?

      I've seen ones where merely *scrolling the page* is enough to trigger video playback. One particular vendor had a video where when it started playing on page scroll, and then you went to the ad to pause it, as soon as you scrolled the page again it started playing again. Oh yes, that vendor got my attention alright; I fired of a message to them telling them how obnoxious that was, and how it convinced me I didn't want their product.

  12. rmacd

    Does anyone else see "you're using adblock, please disable to continue" and then take great pleasure in saying "ah well, your loss" before closing the page? Especially those ones that have you manually click through 1024 "vendors" (presumably just to fuck you off)?

    One exception I'll make is sites that state they will only show ads that, by default, don't track me.

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Does anyone else see "you're using adblock, please disable to continue" and then take great pleasure in saying "ah well, your loss" before closing the page?

      Especially since I'm not actually running an ad-blocker, just a cookie-filter. Cookies local to the site? OK, I can accept that. Tracking cookies? Heck no.

      I accept that people gotta pay the bills, and unless I want to have some really nasty and buggy micropayment system just to browse websites (because I don't see that being anywhere near as neat, efficient, or free of bugs and vulnerabilities as people wishfully think), then advertising is a way to sustain those sites. Reasonable advertising, maybe even clever ones if they aren't too lazy.Ads that don't interfere with your usage of a site, hog your resources, and follow you for weeks afterwards. But obviously it's the tracking that they want on those sites, and that doesn't settle well with me. There are products I had considered buying, then didn't because the ads for them followed me everywhere.

  13. radio1snowman

    should have done this a while ago but good move

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