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Jeff Chiu / AP

Google is planning to put an ad blocker in its Chrome web browser, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. 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 some of the biggest advertising heavyweights, like Facebook, Google, Group M, Procter and Gamble and The Washington Post.

Why it matters: 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.

"It's a move that could potentially strengthen Google's already dominating position in the digital ad space," says Jakob Holm Kalkar, VP at Blackwood Seven media agency. "Google, more or less, controls the browser market and an introduction of an ad-blocking feature would therefore, by default, secure a strong position in the ad-blocking market and through that an even more dominant role in the advertising space."

European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager responded on Twitter: " We will follow this new feature and it's effects closely." (It's worth noting that the E.U.'s privacy and anti-trust laws are generally stricter than the those in the U.S. and Google has struggled with them in the past. )

How Google wins:

  • More control: More than a quarter of internet users in the U.S. use ad blockers, and that number has been steadily increasing year over year, according to estimates by eMarketer. Google would rather uses use its own ad-blocking technology and have control over consumers' ad-blocking preferences, than push them to use blockers from third-parties.
  • More revenue: Roughly 88% of Google's total revenue comes from advertising. (Google will account for 40.7% of U.S. digital ad revenue this year — roughly 40% of the display market and 80% of the search market.) By restricting more publishers in the market from having their ads load through its Chrome browser, Google positions itself to make more money.
  • Continued search dominance: Google Chrome dominates search market share, with over 51% of the desktop audience using Chrome, compared to the second-largest browser, Internet Explorer, used by 17% of U.S. Internet users, according to comScore. Adding a built-in ad blocker could lure more users, who find third-party ad blocking technology difficult to navigate.

Go deeper

UN poll: Most see climate change as global emergency amid pandemic

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) fronts a Fridays For Future protest at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in September. Photo: Jonathan Nacksrtrand/AFP via Getty Images

64% of people from around the world say climate change is a global emergency, a United Nations poll published Wednesday finds.

Why it matters: It's biggest global survey on climate change ever conducted, with some 1.2 million participants from 50 countries — including the U.S. where 65% of those surveyed view climate change as an emergency.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.