What it is: The relatively little known but trend-setting browser, Opera, has announced a built-in ad blocking feature.
Websites display ads to pay their bills. Users often hate ads because they cover up content and open windows on the screen that can be annoying to close. That’s why many people use ad-blocking plug-ins with their browser. Unlike Google, Opera doesn’t make money on ads so they’ve added their ad-blocking feature directly in their browser. That means if you switch to Opera, you can start blocking ads without going through the hassle of downloading and installing an ad-blocking browser plug-in.
For users, this loads websites faster and makes browsing more convenient. For website operators, this potential loss of ad revenue makes it difficult to earn money. The end result is less financial incentive to create useful content on websites.
The problem initially began from the abuse of ads that obscure content to force you to pay attention to them. Now with users resorting to ad-blockers, suddenly advertising companies have to think twice. Should they continue offering annoying ads to make more money? Or should they scale back the ads so they’re visible but less likely to be clicked on?
Most likely the trend will be towards more ad-blocking and fewer websites able to afford to continue making money from their content. Opera may be a little known browser, but it’s probably one of the most influential browsers. Features first found on Opera, such as tabs, eventually find their way to other browsers. So if Opera embraces built-in ad-blocking, you can expect other browsers will soon copy that feature. The only exception might be Google Chrome.
That’s because Google depends on advertising. Each time you search with Google, you’re giving Google information about your activities so they can display more relevant ads to you. Will Google include ad-blocking in their Chrome browser if that will defeat Google’s entire financial model? If Google fails to include ad-blocking, will people simply shift to other browsers such as Opera?
Google’s dilemma is staying relevant in a world increasing dominated by ad-blockers in browsers and mobile apps that circumvent websites altogether. Without ads, websites may have a hard time offering free content. Just think of all those YouTube videos that have millions of hits and display ads either at the beginning of every video or shows a smaller ad at the bottom of the screen while a video plays. Eliminate ads from the browsing experience and there goes Google’s business model.
Ad-blockers are the wave of the future so expect to see them in your favorite browser soon (unless you use Chrome). Of course if you want ad-blocking now, just switch to Opera. In fact, if you want all the latest browser features right away, switch to Opera. Opera is one of the fastest and best browsers that many people have never heard of.