Ad blockers can speed up your browser, protect your identity, and improve your online experience. Want to know which is the right ad blocker for you?
You’ve likely heard of ad blockers, as they’re becoming increasingly popular today with the rise of digital advertising and online fraud. They provide a way for content consumers to avoid ads, but can also help keep your identity safe online by masking you from websites that may be spying. Think of retargeting ads. Ever wonder how they get all that information and know the exact dates you’re thinking of flying to Puerto Rico?
Learn more about ad blockers and the differences between the many types.
Rundown on Ad Blockers
Ad blockers, like AdAway and Privacy Badger, are plugins or browser extensions that remove ads on specific websites. Depending on the type of blocker you have, certain content gets blocked. Most ad blockers stop ads from getting through, while other non-tracking ad blockers stop websites from spying on you and other things that may compromise your privacy. This could be information like how long you spend on a certain page, or what buttons you’ve clicked on most. Most ad blockers though, aim to eliminate irritating pop-up and banner ads that are a nuisance to people.
Aside from the privacy and ad-eliminating aspect to ad blockers, they also provide users with other benefits. Ad blockers can greatly speed up your browsing experience, as it blocks advertisements and other pop-ups that take up bandwidth. This can help you save on your mobile data, as pages load faster. Using an ad blocker also makes websites look nicer and cleaner, and makes articles easier to read, as there are no boxes squished in between paragraphs.
As useful and obvious as using an ad blocker may seem, they do pose an ethical dilemma among content consumers and advertisers. Many people have a hard time using blockers because in a sense, they “deny websites” of revenue from content. If the content isn’t being shown, the website host can’t make money. But many ad blockers let you choose the sites you want to block ads from, which can be ones you feel are spying on you for information you don’t want to give.
How to Use an Ad Blocker
To start using an ad blocker, you will have to choose the right one. There are many choices out there all with slightly different offerings.
Take Ghostery for example, which is one of the most popular privacy extensions on the market. Ghostery can be used on several different browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, and Internet Explorer. You can also use it on iOS or Android. Though the product has a bit more of a learning curve compared to others, it’s incredibly robust. You can choose exactly what you want to track and block like advertising, analytics, and social media. You can manually choose what you want the extension to block, or you can have it automatically decide what to block based off your browsing patterns and history. You can also choose to turn the ad blocker off at any point if you want by pressing pause in the menu that sits on top of your browser. Ghostery is a great option, but there are others like Purify and 1Blocker.
Once you choose the right blocker based on your needs, you will need to install, download, and run the application. The rest is simple. Just open your regular browser, and visit a website. You will notice that there are no ads or pesky pop-ups. In the background, your ad blocker is doing the heavy lifting by looking at the site’s components and its scripts to see if there are any that should be blocked.
If a Webpage Doesn’t Support Ad Blockers
Since websites rely on ads to make their money, they’ve started blocking their content if they pick up that you’re using a blocker. As frustrating as this is, it isn’t all that bad, as many websites don’t restrict their content. And if they do, you can simply turn off your ad blocker or pause it on that site for a certain amount of time.
AdBlock makes it really simple to pause on certain sites. Say you’re on a site that doesn’t allow ad blockers, you can just click the small AdBlock icon at the top of your browser and click, “pause on this site.” AdBlock also tells you how many ads it has blocked on the current page you’re on, as well as the total amount of ads it has blocked throughout its lifetime. A blocker comparable to AdBlock, is uBlock Origin. It’s easy on memory and CPU footprint, and gives you a snapshot of how many requests have been blocked and how many domains are connected to a certain page. Other blockers like Adblock Plus and AdGuard are good solutions that keep track of blocked ads. Adblock Plus is used on over 100 million devices worldwide, while AdGuard has a parental control feature that lets you restrict your kids from viewing and accessing inappropriate websites.
Protect Yourself From Website Spying
Ad blockers are good for many things, not just the sole ability to block annoying ads from popping up while you’re catching up on your morning news. If you’re looking for the protection an ad blocker provides without the need to download yet another extension, check out the Opera Browser. The company behind the browser is based in Norway, and the product is a fast and easy-to-use browser that has a built-in ad blocker and VPN. Next time you get slammed with a pop-up or find yourself “x-ing” out of ads repeatedly, get yourself an ad blocker!