Publishers have been pushing for access to Google user data insights. Photo: AP file

Google is introducing two new categories of ad filters, powered by machine learning, that publishers can use to block automated ads from their sites. "Publishers have indicated that they sometimes want to block particular types of [advertisements] because of the way they could affect their brands," Google's Director of Product Management Scott Spencer told reporters in Chicago Tuesday.

Sensational/tabloid ad filter: Will block ads that often look like click-bait. They feature celebrities, aliens, characters talking about some fictitious nonsense, etc. These types of ads don't necessarily always violate Google's policies, but the company wants to give publishers the control to have more mature creative — filtering out click bait.

Suggestive ad filter: Will block ads that are risqué or feature racy images, using machine learning technology that can identify how much skin is exposed.

Google has also rolled out an ad-blocking feature called "funding choices" which is a tool for publishers to communicate with users who have an ad blocker and ask to either:

  1. Be white-listed, or added to a list of approved publishers that they can be served ads by (or)
  2. Ask users to pay to buy an ads-free pass

Spencer says they have seen white list rates up to 15% in the first scenario and 30% in the second.

Go deeper

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus

Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and his wife, Pamela, both tested positive for coronavirus, his office announced on Friday.

The state of play: The Northams were tested after one of their staff "who works closely within the couple's living quarters" tested positive. The governor is asymptomatic, while his wife is "experiencing mild symptoms." They plan to isolate at home for 10 days.

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Amazon wants to flood America with Alexa cameras and microphones

Photo: Amazon

In a Thursday event unveiling a slew of new home devices ahead of the holidays, Amazon made clearer than ever its determination to flood America with cameras, microphones and the voice of Alexa, its AI assistant.

The big picture: Updating popular products and expanding its range to car alarms and in-home drones, Amazon extended its lead in smart home devices and moved into new areas including cloud gaming and car security. The new offerings will also fuel criticism that the tech giant is helping equip a society built around surveillance.

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Oil's turbulent long-term future

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The oil sector is facing risks from all sides.

Why it matters: Risk in the industry is nothing new. But these are especially turbulent and uncertain times. The industry's market clout has waned, the future of demand is kind of a mystery, and future U.S. policy is too, just to name three.

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