In today’s digital world we are constantly bombarded with up to 5000 adverts a day, whether that be on our social media channels, browsing the web, or even reading the news online. It is therefore perhaps not surprising that developers have created software that blocks adverts on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Today, adverts are more than just clutter on your screen, they can invade your privacy, slow down websites, flatten your phone’s battery, eat through your data plan and deliver malware. It is for this reason many people now choose to install ad blockers.
How do they work in practice?
To install an ad blocker on your browser simply type in ‘ad blocker’ into any search engine and find a reputable extension that can be installed, examples include AdBlock Plus, Poper Blocker, and AdBlocker Ultimate. The majority of ad blocking extensions are also free, making them easily accessible and user friendly. However, they only work with certain browsers so if you use Chrome for example only Chrome compatible ad blockers will work.
Once you’ve followed the steps to download and install the software safely, the ad blocker will then automatically begin blocking adverts on every website you visit. It does this by looking at the website’s scripts while it is loading, comparing them against a list of sites and scripts it was built to block. If it finds any, it blocks them.
However, some websites will be able to tell that you are using an ad blocker and won’t allow you to access their content unless you turn it off. You can do this easily, without having to uninstall the extension by ‘whitelisting’ select sites. Simply click on the ad blocker symbol (the stop sign) in the top right corner of your browser and then click ‘Pause on this site’.
On your smartphone, or other devices, you can download ad blocking apps from the App or Google Play Store that work the same way as on your browser.
What are the positives of using Ad Blockers?
Not only is blocking adverts more than just a way to see less marketing, by doing so with an ad blocker you also reduce the likelihood that you will click on a malvertising link. These links are created by cybercriminals, who hide malware in digital ads and push those ads directly to popular websites.
In some cases, you don’t even need to click the ad for the malware to be released into your system, just opening up the website may be enough to cause damage to your computer, server, client, or network.
What are the downsides of Ad Blockers?
First, it should be noted that some companies pay ad blockers a large sum of money not to block their ads. For example, Adblock Plus has a large program that allows certain ad types and ad-networks through. It is therefore crucial that before you install an ad blocker, you research the best options online to you to make sure it has the option to truly protect you from all ads.
Secondly, while this is not a security warning, ad blockers tend to drive publishers toward paywalls. This is because most website content is free for users to access, but is only free due to the fact it is typically paid for by the ads displayed on the website.
This means, if you block ads, some websites no longer receive their payment, which can damage their revenues, especially for smaller businesses. For sites that you truly care about, trust, and use frequently, it is therefore better to whitelist them, using the steps explained previously, to help ensure they can continue producing the content you enjoy.
Are they safe?
If you install an ad blocker from a reputable website, it should be safe to use. However, be warned that certain ad blockers also do their own tracking, so they monitor your behavior, and sell that data to third parties, who then in turn send you more targeted adverts! This can be avoided if you read reviews on the ad blockers available before installing.
We hope this helped you decide whether you would find it beneficial to install an ad blocker.
Do you have any other topics you’d like us to cover or have any questions? Leave a comment in the section below.