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GuillermoJM via Flickr CC

Google is moving forward with an ad blocker installed in its' Chrome web browser, The Wall Street Journal reports. The company reportedly told web publishers they have "at least six months" to prepare.

Why it matters:

  • There are some big anti-trust concerns: If Google decides to move forward with implementing the technology, one of the biggest advertising-funded companies would get to decide through one of its own products which ads can be viewed. European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager responded on Twitter immediately after the first rumor of the change was announced saying: "We will follow this new feature and its effects closely."
  • Implementation will be a heavy lift: Even if publishers agree with the principle of producing less intrusive ad experiences, many aren't able/ready/equipped to transition all of their ad inventory to acceptable formats, especially given the rampant use of automatically distributed ads. Case-in-point: The site that broke this story served me a pop-up ad upon reading it that does not adhere to the Coalition's standards and would likely be blocked if the Chrome ad blocker were installed today.

How it would work: The blocker would filter out ads that are deemed intrusive based on standards that have been mapped out by a third-party group called the Coalition for Better Ads, which includes advertising heavyweights like Facebook, Google, Group M, Procter and Gamble and The Washington Post.Where it gets tough: Publishers have little choice in the matter but to adapt, as Google, along with Facebook, drives the majority of web traffic to publishers, and its Chrome browser has a 51% desktop usage rate according to comScore. Understanding this will be a challenge for publishers, WSJ reports that Google will provide a self-service tool called "Ad Experience Reports," that will alert publishers when ads that don't adhere to the Coalition's standards appear on their sites and will explain how to fix problems with those ads.

Go deeper

Updated 2 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February
  2. Vaccines: Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker
Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Experts predict major boom for North American sports stadiums

Rendering of the $375 million Moody Center on the UT-Austin campus. Photo courtesy of Moody Center

Stadium and arena construction in North America will total a relatively tame $5.8 billion this year, a 12% decrease from 2021.

The big picture: What the industry lacks in construction it expects to make up for in design, with experts predicting a sports venue boom over the next half-decade, SBJ reports.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

The latest: “I can’t comment on specific pieces of intelligence. But we’ve been warning about just this kind of tactic for weeks and we’ve spoken to that publicly," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.