Google begins blocking annoying ads on its browser

The Google logo at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif can be seen in this file photo. (AP)
Updated 16 February 2018
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Google begins blocking annoying ads on its browser

WASHINGTON: Google has begun a new effort to block annoying ads on its Chrome browser, as part of an initiative aimed at improving the online advertising ecosystem that provides the bulk of its revenues.
The new ad filtering system rolled out this week aims to eliminate the most irritating marketing messages such as pop-ups, auto-play video ads and “sticky” boxes which cannot be removed.
The system was implemented by Google in partnership with the Coalition for Better Ads, an association which includes the Internet giant and a number of media and advertising partners.
“While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we’ve increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive,” Google engineering manager Chris Bentzel said in a blog post ahead of the rollout Thursday.
“Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.”
While Google’s effort is expected to block only a small percentage of ads, it aims to counter a growing movement to install third-party ad blockers which filter all such advertisements and could be a threat to firms relying on online revenues.
According to a study last year by the research firm PageFair, about 11 percent of the global Internet population uses ad-blocking software, affecting 380 million mobile devices and 236 million desktop PCs.
Google vice president Rahul Roy-Chowdhury said the move aims to improve the online ad system even if it means blocking some ads from Google itself.
“To us, your experience on the web is a higher priority than the money that these annoying ads may generate — even for us,” Roy-Chowdhury said in a blog post.
“The web is an ecosystem composed of consumers, content producers, hosting providers, advertisers, web designers, and many others. It’s important that we work to maintain a balance — and if left unchecked, disruptive ads have the potential to derail the entire system.”
Google and its partners in the ad coalition thus appear to be aiming to head off a consumer revolt which could choke off revenues to Internet, media and advertising companies.
The Coalition for Better Ads said in a statement Thursday it “is pleased by the large number of companies in the online ad industry that have embraced the Better Ads Standards and taken action on their own and with their business partners to discontinue the ad formats consumers find most annoying and disruptive.”


Saudi ICT sector holds key to growth, forum told

Updated 20 March 2019
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Saudi ICT sector holds key to growth, forum told

  • 5G will be used in 30% of big cities in Saudi Arabia by 2020
  • 90% of KSA has 4G technology coverage, including remote centers and villages

RIYADH: Information and communications technology (ICT) is one of the main drivers of development in today’s world, a Riyadh forum on “Digital Transformation for an Ambitious Country” has been told.

In his opening speech to the annual Communications and Information Technology Indicators Forum, Abdul Aziz Al-Ruwais, governor of the Communications and Information Technology Commission, said the ICT sector stimulated productivity, enhanced competitiveness and encouraged innovation.

On Wednesday, the Saudi minister of communications and information technology, Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha, joined regional and global leaders in the ICT sector, telecom executives and government officials at the forum.

Al-Ruwais said that ICT has been used to “develop strategies and regulatory policies that can guarantee the availability of infrastructure, basic apparatus and services in all regions of the Kingdom.”

“In order to facilitate the mission of researchers, experts and those interested in telecommunication services indicators, the Communications and Information Technology Commission established an electronic platform that allows the user to have access to indicators and statistics related to the sector. This platform enables the user to view the indicators in the form of tables and detailed graphs,” he said.

Al-Ruwais said the commission has achieved 90 percent coverage of 4G technologies in the Kingdom, including remote centers and villages.

He said the authority has issued temporary licenses for fifth-generation networks, equipping 153 sites with 5G in nine cities. So far, 680 trials were conducted for 5G.

He said that ICT services achieved high indicators during the 2017 Hajj season, with local and international calls totaling 439 million through 16,000 base stations.

Mufarreh Nahari, director of Market Studies at CITC, said: “It is expected that by 2020 the experimental uses of 5G will be fully completed and they will be ready to launch the official 5G sim by then. By the end of 2020 we expect that 5G will be used in 30 percent of the big cities in Saudi Arabia.”

The past three years have seen an increase in internet usage. In 2018, two-thirds of Internet users in the Kingdom used the internet for more than four hours a day, said Nahari.

Ammar Al-Ansari, department head of Country Digital Acceleration at Cisco, said: “The agreements signed by the crown prince during his overseas visits led to the introduction of a number of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques, including virtual schools and smart classrooms.” 

Seven schools in Saudi have a live stream for teachers to connect with their students. They may be 250 km to 300 km apart, but an active learning session takes place between students and educators.

Al-Ansari displayed a video from a teacher in Jeddah giving lessons to students in the northern region via a smart board. AI was used to monitor and analyze students’ attention spans. 

The analysis will help educators update traditional teaching methods.