While the debate around ad blocking continues, Opera has decided to build a native ad blocker that ships with its browser.

The company announced that it's "the first major browser vendor to integrate an ad-blocking feature" and the reason won't come as a surprise.

It looked at the stats, which show that a growing number of consumers want ad blockers to protect them from bloated web pages, poor browsing experiences and unwanted tracking.

With ad blocking built in to its browser at the web engine level, Opera says it can provide "unmatched speed" versus ad blocking extensions that consumers must install in other browsers. 

Even though Opera's market share ranges from around 2% to 5% depending on who you ask, making it the fifth or sixth most popular browser, the fact that the company made the decision to add a native ad blocker has sparked significant conversation.

Here's what advertisers and publishers need to know.

It's not enabled by default, but...

Opera's native ad blocking capabilities won't be enabled by default, but they will be promoted to users when Opera detects ads that it can block.

Furthermore, when enabled, Opera's native ad blocker will track the number of ads it's blocking and can show comparisons between estimated page load times with and without ad blocking enabled.

That information, Opera hopes, won't just be useful to consumers but also to publishers and advertisers who need to understand how ads are affecting user experiences.

It's about performance

While Opera's Kolondra notes that some popular ad-supported sites, like CNET and TechCrunch, "appear to offer very good experience to their users with ads on – with only marginal delays in page loading," many others do not.

In fact, Kolondra says "if there were no bloated ads, some top websites would load up to 90% faster."

But ad blocking extensions themselves have overheads, and Opera claims that with native ad blocking code built right into the browser it can deliver a significantly faster ad-blocked browsing experience.


It could be a harbinger of things to come

While it's unlikely that Google would add a native ad blocker to its Chrome browser given that the company generates the vast majority of its revenue from digital ads, Opera's move has some wondering whether other browsers will get native ad blocking capabilities in the future.

There was speculation that when Apple opened the door to ad blocking in iOS, it did so in part to dent Google.

That might not be the only motivation but it's conceivable that Apple, which isn't dependent on ad revenue, could one day follow Opera's lead and build some form of ad blocking right into its OS and browsers.

There's a perception that the ad industry still doesn't get it

Despite the fact that the ad industry has been forced to face the harsh statistics and inconvenient truths behind the rise of ad blocking, there's still a perception that the industry doesn't fully get it.

As Opera's Krystian Kolondra noted...

There’s the IAB L.E.A.N. initiative for better ads but where are the better ads themselves? Instead, we see a primer on how to convince users to disable adblocking.

It’s a good step, but what if ads could be better, less intrusive and not slow down the browsing so significantly?

The key point: by and large, nothing has fundamentally changed.

Sure, more and more publishers are responding to ad blockers, but talk about making the ads themselves better has not translated to better ads and, until that happens, consumers will not give up their ad blockers.

Patricio Robles

Published 14 March, 2016 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)

Jeremy Whitt

Jeremy Whitt, Management Consultant / Chief Marketing Officer at The Promethean Group

Could this tectonic shift be any more profound? As a "marketing guy" I can't believe how tone-deaf advertising industry as a whole is reacting to an overwhelmingly correlated inevitability... Folks simply don't like "your" ads. I tell clients all the time that Marketing is actually much easier than we make it. It's one of the only industries where all you have to do is listen to your customers.

Case: Most won't recall that decades ago, you had to pay for some fine young gentleman to fill up your car at gas stations. Then owners found that drivers would gladly pay less to fill up their cars themselves... The consumer TOLD marketers exactly what they wanted. I call this "voting with your feet" or, what you want is not necessarily what you say you want, but what you actually do. What followed has been a stead stream of innovations from pay-at-the-pump to business models where gas stations often make far more profit margins on the attached convenience store vs fuel pump margins. I can also now get a cord of wood and exchange my propane tank at gas stations! None of these evolutionary innovations would exist if the industry would have turned a deaf ear to the consumer.

The ad industry is almost certainly going to fail in this simple test. Evolve, innovate, or fade into oblivion. Others before it, equally as strong and well-established failed: newspaper, book stores, video rentals, music album sales, land-line-phones, etc.

Marketers need to think bigger, broader, and bolder!

Display Ads... RIP

over 2 years ago

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