At some point, online ads simply become too frustrating and intrusive to your browsing experience. Besides being annoying, ads can significantly undermine your online privacy and security. But luckily, there is a simple way to deal with pesky ads that are stopping you from viewing the content you actually want to see.
You have probably heard of ad blocking software and you may even use it on a daily basis. What these apps do is stop ads from appearing on your screen when you are browsing the web.
In this post, you can learn some important details about ad blockers that can help you improve your browsing experience:
- what ad blockers are and how they work
- the reasons why you should block online ads and when not to do it
- a list of the best ad blockers to choose from
- a bonus tip for a seamless browsing experience
What Is Ad Blocking Software and How Does It Work?
Ad blocking software is an app that changes or completely removes advertising content on a website. Some of these apps don’t replace ads with anything, leaving broken links or just empty spaces on the webpage where the advertising content would otherwise be shown. Others, however, replace the ads with other content.
Ad blocking tools usually come in the form of browser extensions or plugins. Before a page loads, the ad blocker analyzes the website’s scripts and compares them against a list of scripts and sites to block at the app’s servers. If it discovers any similarities, it blocks the website.
The kind of content ad blockers stop varies from app to app:
- Some particular stop-items that can compromise your privacy, including tracking codes which reveal information about your activities on the page to marketers
- Others are developed to block all advertising content on a website
- Most of them stop advertising content that disrupts user experience such as banner ads and pop-ups
It should be noted that Google Ads are often whitelisted by default by many popular ad blocking apps since they have proven to be useful for both users and marketers.
Why Should You Block Online Ads?
Online advertisements are shown everywhere. They can disrupt your games, videos, or any other content. Sometimes they can also even obstruct your search for torrents. Legitimate ads are usually used to generate income or to financially support websites that offer content for free.
However, the fundamental issue with ads, besides them wasting your time, lies in the fact that marketers use them to gather huge amounts of private data in order to target the right audience. Ads are often promoted on third-party domains (ad networks) and consist of sophisticated tracking tools.
When this tracking code is embedded in an ad, it can be used to create a specific user profile based on a user’s browsing activity, interests, age, physical location, friends, hobbies, and more. After the user profile is created, a person is shown targeted ads through the ad networks on the websites they visit.
Therefore, it is safe to say that online ads have basically become digital surveillance tools that invade your privacy.
Other major problems with ads include:
Ads hinder your device’s performance in terms of CPU drain and bandwidth usage, particularly for smartphones. They clutter up your online space and slow down your browsing experience. This is why a lightweight and versatile ad blocker can considerably improve your page loading speed.
Malvertising (malicious advertising) is definitely on the increase. If you just think of it, it is rather alarming that your device can become infected with malware by simply loading a page that contains ads. Without any clicks whatsoever.
Through online ads, cybercriminals can easily spread malware that takes advantage of security bugs or use ransomware that locks your device until you transfer them a required amount of money. Even popular and secure websites like New York Times and BBC have fallen victims to malvertising in the past.
When Should You Turn off Your Ad Blocker?
Although ad blockers have a number of advantages, there may come the time when you may want to turn it off. On the one hand, with an ad block app turned on, you can finally read your favorite blog posts, play games, or browse the web without disruptive ads appearing on your screen. And while this benefits you as an internet user, the picture is quite different for publishers.
The reason for this is because the content you view for free is indirectly paid by those ads. In other words, marketers only pay for ads that are shown on users’ screens. More precisely, publishers don’t get paid for adverts that haven’t reached users.
So, in case an ad doesn’t show on your desktop computer or smartphone screen because you have an ad block software turned on, the blog you love to read daily will not earn money from ads.
Publishers try to solve this issue in several ways:
- Some produce only sponsored content
- Others offer paid subscriptions
- Some publishers will politely ask you to whitelist their site or at least pause your ad blocker for a while
- Finally, some prevent readers from viewing the content if an ad blocker is turned on
Whether we like it or not, ads are an integral part of the economy of the world wide web. They may be intrusive and annoying, but they also financially support your favorite site’s existence. So even though ad blockers should be generally used, consider pausing them on reputable websites from time to time.
Which Ad Blocker Should You Use?
With so many different ad blockers on the web, it is rather difficult to choose the one that best suits your needs. To help you get the right one, we have reviewed five popular ad blockers.
These browser extensions will block pop-ups, banner ads, rollovers, and more. And although they can be used to monitor your online behavior, these extensions remain the most popular choice among internet users, as they are free of charge or very affordable, easy to use, and definitely do a great job when it comes to blocking online ads.
Adnauseum is a rather special case. Google has tried to ban it, but this app is still available for Opera, Firefox, and Chrome. Adnaseum basically clicks on every ad in the background without you noticing this at all, so on the surface, it works just like a regular ad blocker even though it is not.
This ad blocking app works on all major browsers – Edge, Opera, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and others. Ghostery feels very sleek and has a lot of settings. User customization is its forte, giving you various options to choose from.
Besides blocking ads, it also stops or anonymizes trackers. Each of these features can be deactivated separately, offering unsurpassed customization. However, you will have to manually select any tracker you want to block, which is a daunting task.
Adguard has a great look and feel. Beside its modern design, it operates on all browsers as well as on the smartphone operating systems like iOS and Android. Its only flaw is that it has a backing company that also offers paid products. There is a free browser extension, but you will need to pay for a desktop version of the product.
Although not an adblocker per se, this general-purpose blocker does not only stop ads but also trackers. As a matter of fact, its performance is top-notch and yet uBlock Origin is very lightweight on your PC’s resources, much more so than AdBlock, for example. What you get in speed, however, you lose in usability, as you will need some time to figure out how to set it up.
AdBlock’s functionality is quite simple, as it only needs one click to install. The interface is clear and functional, and the app blocks everything like a charm, from in-video ads to standard banners.
When you click on the AdBlock icon in your browser, you can pause the app, whitelist a page or domain, block specific ads, and more. Overall, this app is a tried-and-true product that has been there for a long time and is a great option for an average user.
Bonus Tip – Use an Ad Blocker with a VPN
Ad block apps prevent ads from showing, allow you to use less data, as well as protect your privacy and personal information. Yet, blogs often depend on ads for income, and you may not be able to visit every site on the Internet, as some of them won’t display content if your ad blocker is on.
However, there is a solution to this – use an ad blocker with a VPN. This way, you will be able to access all of your favorite content online, including shows, movies, games, and websites.
In addition, a VPN protects your browsing device and provides you with anonymity by encrypting all your online activities. In other words, when you use a VPN, people can’t access your digital footprint.
Besides this, VPN hides your IP address and practically changes the virtual location of your device, thus hiding your true location, which makes it very difficult for third parties to gather data about your online activities.