Web browser introduces built-in ad-blocker

Luke Graham | News Assistant

Software company Opera has introduced a built-in ad-blocking feature into its internet browser, which will allow users to surf the web without seeing ads, in the process depriving websites of revenue.

Opera announced the feature this week and said the tool would allow users to choose whether or not to block ads from a particular website while browsing the internet.

The company claims that using the ad blocker on its browser will load web pages on average 90 percent faster than using Internet Explorer and 45 percent faster than using Google Chrome with an ad-blocker extension.

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Around 5 percent of internet browsing is performed using Opera, according to web analytics service StatCounter. In comparison, Google Chrome is the most used browser, accounting for 45 percent of activity.

In a blog post, the company explained its reasons for introducing the tool was to improve the consumer experience and send a message to advertisers that internet ads are too large and intrusive.

"Today, bloated online ads use more download bandwidth than ever, causing webpages to load more slowly, at times covering the content that you're trying to see or trying to trick you into clicking 'fake download buttons'," wrote Krystian Kolondra, senior vice president of global engineering for Opera, in the blog post .

"Another rising concern is privacy and tracking of your online behavior."

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While ad-free browsing may be faster and more convenient for web users, websites end up paying a price. Ad-blocking cost digital publishers an estimated $22 billion in revenue in 2015, with around 198 million global people using the software, according to a report by PageFair and Adobe.

In response to the rise of ad-blocking, the New York Times began trialling a system this week that detected visitors to the news site using an ad-blocker and asked them to purchase a subscription or "whitelist" the site (make it exempt from the ad-blocker).

Opera follows Samsung and mobile phone company Three in implementing ad-blocking services. Previously, internet users had to download and install ad-blocking software.

According to Eleni Marouli, senior analyst at IHS Technology, there is a trend of telecom companies trying to be included in the mobile advertising ecosystem.

"Telcos have traditionally been just data 'pipes' which provided the infrastructure for mobile internet and hence mobile advertising," she said in a report. "They have attempted to monetise content through advertising, but have made little progress in claiming significant market share.

"The ad blocking announcement (by Three) is a plea to companies like Facebook and Google to include Three and other mobile operators in the mobile advertising value chain."

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