Recently, Google announced a change that should be a welcome relief to many users, especially those who surf primarily on laptops or handhelds. Beginning in late August, the browser will automatically unload ad iframes that soak up an excessive amount of computing resources.

Advertising is, of course, ubiquitous on the web. There’s little you can do to avoid it, so this is an excellent step.

Marshall Vale, Chrome’s Product Manager, had this to say about the coming change:

«In order to save our users’ batteries and data plans, and provide them with a good experience on the web, Chrome will limit the resources a display ad can use before the user interacts with the ad. When an ad reaches its limit, the ad’s frame will navigate to an error page, informing the user that the ad has used too many resources.

If users click the Details link, they will see a short message explaining why the ad was unloaded and saying that ‘This ad uses too many resources for your device, so Chrome removed it.'»

In terms of the criteria Google will use to make the determination, it is as follows:

  • Uses more than 4 megabytes of network bandwidth
  • Uses the main thread for more than 15 seconds in any 30-second window
  • Uses the main thread for more than 60 seconds in total

Vale went on to explain that only about 0.3 percent of ads displayed on the web exceed these thresholds, but that they are responsible for a staggering 26 percent of all network data and 28 percent of all CPU resources used by online advertising.

If you are a business owner, the best way to ensure that your ads don’t inadvertently exceed these thresholds is to make sure that any images you use are compressed. Also, don’t try to display excessively large video files in the ads you’re deploying.

On balance, this is a good move. Although it is certain to cause some amount of grumbling on the part of the web’s advertisers. In any case, kudos to Google for continuing to try to improve the overall user experience.

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