Are Ad Blockers Relevant?

By Rhonda Bradley / 10 April 2019

Learn how ad blockers are evolving in 2019 and whether or not they are still needed.

Nearly one-third of consumers use ad-blocking extensions, primarily on desktop and laptop computers, to block ads when browsing online, according to a recent report by Visual Objects.

Ad blockers are a vital service for people who are annoyed by an advertisement-saturated internet, but are they on their way to becoming irrelevant?

In this article, we examine the best tools for ad-blocking and take a look at what’s on the horizon for ad-blockers. Will they be replaced by native browser services or content marketing? Or are ad blockers here to stay?

Best Ad Blocking Tools

A report by web privacy expert VPN Mentor lists the current top four ad-blocking tools as:

1. AdBlock

AdBlock Plus screenshot

AdBlock (Plus), an open-source browser extension for content-filtering and ad blocking, is compatible with the following browsers:

  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Google Chrome
  • Internet Explorer
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Opera, Safari
  • Yandex Browser
  • Android

2. CyberSec by NordVPN

CyberSec is an advanced ad blocker that claims to provide better performance, security and control. 

CyberSec screenshot

NordVPN promises to keep your data private and browser secure without placing limitations on what you’re able to do.

3. CleanWeb by Surfshark

Surfshark’s CleanWeb software promises that users will be able to “Surf in a clean cyber ocean with no ads, trackers, malware and phishing attempts.”

CleanWeb screenshot

4. Opera

The Opera web browser offers a built-in ad blocker and VPN that delivers more speed and privacy.

Opera screenshot

Opera features include:

  • No need for add-ons
  • Better browsing speed

Ad blockers help protect your privacy and improve your protection against malware attacks. They can also help improve your load speeds and battery life while giving you a smoother browsing experience.

If you’ve never used an ad blocker, try experimenting with at least one for an afternoon. It’s a quick installation, and you’ll notice ads vanish instantly.

Ads that follow people from site to site can be frustrating for consumers who feel they invade their privacy. Blinking ads, pop ups, and banner ads often disturb users’ ability to read an article, watch a video, or consume content uninterrupted.

So, it’s not hard to understand why ad blocker have become so popular, or why people get hooked on them quickly - 65% of people with ad blockers have used them for at least 1 year.

Though it may disrupt the advertising industry, consumers have spoken. Some feel “enough is enough” when it comes to their online safety and privacy, and if it’s up to them ad blockers are here to stay.

Google’s Proposed Changes (And Backtrack) Point to Ad Blockers’ Popularity

In October 2018, Google proposed a change to Chrome that would render ad-blockers useless, and it set off a flurry of backlash from software developers. 

In March 2019, Google backstepped, revising the plan to calm irate developers.

"It is not, nor has it ever been, our goal to prevent or break content blocking," explained Chrome software engineer Devlin Cronin in a Google Groups post.

"We are committed to preserving that ecosystem and ensuring that users can continue to customize the Chrome browser to meet their needs,” Cronin continued. 

Cronin went on to explain that Chrome will continue supporting content blockers, developer tools, accessibility features, and many other extensions"

Will Ad Blockers Become Unnecessary?

Ad blockers exist so users can enjoy a faster, safer, and more enjoyable online experience. At some point when enough people are using ad blockers, ads will cease to create profits for the brands purchasing them and therefore become irrelevant. 

While pop-up, banner, and other types of intrusive ads may seem counterintuitive, the truth is that they are effective, or people wouldn’t be using them.

Copyblogger author Beth Haydn describes her experience using pop-up ads on her own site. 

She noted that the addition of a pop-up form caused her opt-in rate to soar, but that people began complaining loudly. “In the history of my business, I received more negative comments about that pop-up than any other aspect of my website. I actually received hate mail,” Haydn said.

As long as people continue clicking on pop-up, banner, and other intrusive ads, chances are there will be a need for ad blockers. 

Ad blockers may evolve and integrate with efficient browsers, requiring less installation and research on the part of users. 

Or marketers may switch to full content marketing, creating less demand for the problem ads. Currently, however, unless Google backflips and changes its mind, ad blockers are here to stay.

Ad Blockers are Here to Stay, For Now

That fact that people who use ad blockers are so loyal to these extension, plus the backlash from Google’s proposed changes, proves that users are passionate about their ad blockers.

While these kinds of tools are here to stay for now, marketers should look to offer higher-quality experiences that can convert customers without upsetting them through intrusive advertising.

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