Web giants such as Google make significant revenue from selling online ad space, with as much as $24.1 billion out of the company’s $27.77 billion total revenue in Q3 2018 coming from advertising. E-commerce business are eager to flood your browser with products. Is it time to install an ad blocker? To answer that question, first you need to know how ad blocking works.
What Are Ad Blockers?
As you browse the web, companies constantly look for ways to deliver their brand message. Ads can appear as popups, banners, videos and message boxes. Ad blockers act as a shield to prevent you from seeing this content. They filter all advertising elements coming from sites on various blacklists. Many programs also hide you from trackers, such as cookies, that attempt to keep tabs on your browsing history and personal preferences.
Why Does Blocking Ads Matter?
Are online ads just an annoyance, similar to TV commercials? Not always. Here are five reasons why you should seriously consider blocking at least some of them:
• Information security: Some ads are legitimate, but others can put you at risk. Harmful sites may expose your devices to malware, scams, fraudulent redirects and unwanted programs.
• Performance issues: The fact of the matter is that ads take up space. Wading through videos, photos and popups makes pages load more slowly.
• Mobile device plans: The amount of bandwidth consumed by popups is astounding, often accounting for over half of your total usage or more. This can get costly depending on your data plan.
• Privacy: Without an ad blocker to protect you, trackers can trace your activities via browser fingerprinting, a technology that allows third-party brokers to recognize your IP address and build a profile of purchasing habits, web searches, health data and more. They may then sell the information to other companies.
• Enjoyment: Many online ads can be intrusive or downright frustrating. Having to deal with popups makes browsing difficult, especially on mobile devices. Navigating ad-free lets you enjoy faster surfing.
Are there any downsides to ad blockers? Sometimes they may prevent helpful page elements from loading correctly, such as instructional videos and forms. Certain websites, which likely profit from sponsored ads, may limit access to content unless you authorize ads or subscribe.
Most ad blockers give you the freedom to whitelist individual sites, letting ads appear on those pages exclusively. This way you can support websites you like while avoiding annoying advertisements everywhere else.
What Types of Ad Blockers Exist?
There are numerous options for blocking advertisements and trackers. Here are the pros and cons of six cutting-edge methods:
Ad Blocking Browser Extensions
One of the most common options for adware protection, browser-based ad blockers use add-ons within Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Safari, Opera and others. Whenever you navigate the web using that browser, you’re protected. Installation is fast and easy, but you have to be careful with the privacy settings offered by some “free” options.
Bundled Antivirus Security Packages
Many antivirus programs offer ad blocking features for web navigation. This may be through browser extensions or a product-specific protected browser. These packages offer excellent security that usually comes with a monthly price tag.
Apps install directly on your device and control adware protection for all browsers. In addition, some apps block advertisements in mobile games. There are numerous recommended applications available for iPhone, Android and Windows mobile devices, generally involving a direct purchase for each device.
VPN-Based Ad Blocking
Virtual private networks provide anonymity while navigating the Internet. By masking your IP address, search history and other details, trackers can’t tell who you are. Many VPN services also provide ad blocking functionality. Looking for a trustworthy reputation is paramount, and generally requires a monthly subscription, but if you want the benefits of VPN anyway, ad blocking is a nice perk on the side.
High-tech home data security devices, such as eBlocker, connect directly to your Internet router. Ad blocking, malware protection, anti-phishing technology, plug and play functionality and anonymous browsing are a few of the advantages offered in exchange for a significant price tag.
Router-Based Ad Blocker
Premium router-based protection from ad blocking services directs Internet traffic through the company’s encrypted DNS and directly to your router, distributing whole-home access ad free. This provides adware and malware protection for all devices, including smart TVs, gaming consoles, mobile phones and more.
What Factors Can Help You Choose the Best Ad Blocker?
When deciding which ad blocking option is best, compare up-to-date recommendations from authoritative sources first. Here are some factors to investigate:
• Cost: Better malware protection may bring an increased price tag. Many free options exist as well, some funded by non-profit groups, but may be vulnerable to security issues.
• Privacy: Always read the fine print of how ad protection is delivered. One well-known “free” ad blocker stops certain ads while showing you ones it makes money from. Other free programs that claim to keep you safe actually keep records of your activity and then sell the tracking data to third parties.
• Convenience: If you use a variety of mobile devices and laptops frequently, whole-home ad blocking options such as router protection may be a good fit. On the other hand, browser extensions are ready to go in seconds.
Are Ad Blockers Worth It?
Finding the best ad blocker for your money takes a little digging, but the benefits are absolutely worth it. Besides being able to navigate the web more quickly and easily, you also receive increased privacy and protection from dangerous malware. Once you’ve tasted ad-free, popup-free Internet, you’ll never want to go back.