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Google has rolled out a new AdSense script that will load the company's ubiquitous contextual ads significantly faster than in the past.

Last year, at a conference in Silicon Valley, the company acknowledged that AdSense text ads can account for as much as 12 per cent of a webpage's load time. And we thought to ourselves: "That's all?"

But Google was already testing a new iframe script designed to reduce load times without requiring sites to change any of their AdSense code. "We want to minimize the amount of time we spend blocking the publisher page," Google mathematician Michael Kleber said at the time. "We want a webpage to be as fast with ads in it as without. But we want to do it without having publishers recast. We want to do it without them changing anything on their page, because, you know, AdSense is on millions of websites, and there's no way we're going to get millions to change their pages.

"We want to have this work by default and not just for elite webmasters that keep up with best practices."

Nine months later, Google has rolled out the new script across the globe for users of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 8. Support for other browsers will follow.

In essence, Google is replacing the existing 40K AdSense JavaScript (aka show_ads.js) with a much smaller load script that creates an inline frame on the webpage. The remainder of the script executes with the iframe, separately from the rest of the page. The old "show ads" script would halt all sorts of other tasks when it was downloaded by the browser. The new iframe setup will not. Google is able to access the same code path without interfering with other downloads.

"The remarkable thing is that it works and it's very fast," Kleber said. "Even though the script running inside the publisher page doesn't lock the publisher page from doing all the other things it wants to do, we still execute as quickly as possible, right on top of the stack." ®

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