Chrome To Block Ads On Scam Websites

John Lister's picture

Google's Chrome browser will soon block all ads on sites that have "abusive experiences" for users. It's designed as a way to put financial pressure on scammers. It's a new step following on from an existing attempt to protect users against misleading websites.

'Misleading' has a couple of meanings in this context. One is sites that carry pop-up or other ads that falsely claim to be system warnings, such as those which state the user's computer has malware. In this case, the user either downloads (and pays for) fake security software to "fix" the "problem", or is directed to call a 1-800 number to speak to "Microsoft". In the latter case, it's often scammers operating out of India under the name of Informatico Experts and Live PC Experts (, who then sell fake tech support contracts.

The 'misleading' definition also covers the design of sites, such as ads which have a 'close' or 'X' button that doesn't actually close the ad and instead opens up a new ad or even attempts to install malware. It also includes sites that automatically redirect the user to an unwanted destination.

Original Plan Ineffective

Last year Google took aim at such sites by blocking Chrome from either displaying pop-up windows or allowing links on such sites to open a new tab or window. It now says this doesn't go far enough and that around half of sites with an "abusive experience" are unaffected by the blocks. (Source:

Now it's going a step further by using an ad-blocker feature built directly into Chrome. Sites which are deemed to have "abusive experiences" will get 30 days to fix the issue or Chrome will block all ads on the relevant sites from being seen by users. In theory, even a single offending page could mean an ad block on the entire site. Users will have the option to undo the block and see the ads. (Source:

Decision Targets Bottom Line

This could be a significant impact, as the popularity of Chrome means the websites concerned will see a dramatic decline in ad views on their site. That in turn will mean a big drop in revenue, given most online ads are bought on a pay-per-view or pay-per-click basis.

The move isn't without its potential costs to Google. In its announcement of the move, the company didn't mention any exception for the many ads that are placed on websites through Google's own ad network.

If they are blocked, Google would also see a drop in commission payments. However, that's likely to be minor in the big picture. The block could also avoid the problem of legitimate advertisers being upset when their Google-based ads appear on scam websites.

What's Your Opinion?

Is it reasonable for Chrome to intentionally block ads? Is targeting ad revenue an effective way to fight scam websites? Can Google do this in a fair manner given its own interest in the ad market?

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LouieLouEye's picture

My wife gets these pop-ups sometimes. They include a computer generated voice audio track that cannot be stopped and a pop-up that can only be stopped using Task Manager to kill the web browser. Unfortunately, she uses Firefox more than Chrome when this is happening. Hitting these scammers in the pocketbook is the best way to stop this behavior. I wonder what their next move will be?