Thoughts Tech Solutions Previous Thought Next Thought

Adblock Plus. A review.

Tired of web ads shoving useful content below the fold, freezing sites mid-read and jamming up your YouTube videos? What if you could just vanish them? There's a way!


I recently read a blog post on how Opera, a web browser you may not be familiar with, although it currently claims more than 350 million users worldwide, would be adding a neat ad blocking feature. I had to give this a try. I’m not an Opera user but for this feature I was more than willing to use it. I immediately loved it! I’m not sure about how most people feel about ads on websites but I strongly dislike them. I am willing to bet you do too. Viewing and reading content on websites without ads made it so much easier and faster for me. Still I wasn’t 100% on switching my default web browser (Chrome) to Opera for this. So I started to do a little searching to see what else was out there.

Adblock Plus.

Here’s what I found. This extension can be added to Chrome and FireFox. What does it do and why should you care?  Well, it blocks:

  • Tracking
  • Malware domains
  • Banners
  • Pop-ups
  • Video ads – (even on Facebook and YouTube)

I feel like I need to say that again. Even on Youtube and FaceBook! You can do all your YouTubing without any ads at all.

Click one button to install the Adblock Plus extension and it’s ready to go. And the little extension icon will display the number of ads it’s blocking on the current site. Which is kinda satisfying. It does have other settings you can fiddle with but I don’t find it necessary. I just wanted something that was easy to setup and did what I needed it to do.

It’s worth noting that Adblock Plus doesn’t block EVERY ad. Non-intrusive ads or “Acceptable Ads” will be shown. And actually, those form a revenue stream for Adblock so that it can be free to you: want to be whitelisted? Follow a strict ad format and, assuming you’re a large entity, pay a licensing fee. Actually, 90% of white listed ads don’t have to pay, they just have to follow the guidelines. This seems pretty reasonable to me.

The benefits of using Adblock Plus.
  • Makes browsing sites much faster
  • It’s safer since malware can be introduced through clicking on ads and popups
  • You can disable tracking
  • You can disable social media sharing buttons – These can slow a website’s load time

I spend the majority of my time reading news, tech and sciencey related stuff. Ads on these sites are a real pain. Especially the video ones, you know, the ones that take forever to load and start playing while you’re half way through the site? Yeah

Let’s do a little side-by-side comparison of some sample sites with and without Adblock:

USA Today
Without Adblock Plus - This one never finished loading.

Without Adblock Plus – This one never finished loading.

With Adblock Plus - Blocking 11 ads

With Adblock Plus – Blocking 11 ads

The New York Times
Without Adblock Plus

Without Adblock Plus

With Adblock Plus - Blocking 15 Ads

With Adblock Plus – Blocking 15 Ads

Tech Times
Without Adblock Plus - This one loaded and pushed what I was reading down.

Without Adblock Plus – This one loaded and pushed what I was reading down.

With Adblock Plus - Blocking 11 Ads

With Adblock Plus – Blocking 11 Ads

The Washington Post
Without Adblock Plus

Without Adblock Plus

With Adblock Plus - Blocking 24 ads

With Adblock Plus – Blocking 24 ads

You can clearly see the effect of the lads on these website layouts. It’s pretty startling, no?

Video

Now. I also use YouTube a lot while I’m working to listen to music. Using this extension removes all those annoying ads that play in the beginning of videos and even the pop up one that will appear throughout a video. Really. So great.

Mobile.

While I was using this extension on my desktop browsers I kept wishing that I could have this feature on my mobile Chrome App. I use the Google News and Weather app to catch up on all my news and current events. When you click on an article link to read, it takes you that website with the article with ads galore. So I downloaded the Adblock Plus browser app for my phone. And you know what? It works just as good as the extension on desktop. One note though: I don’t like using it for my regular mobile web browsing. The UI isn’t very friendly and I’m not about to get familiarized with a new mobile browser. But it’s totally saved reading articles through the Google News and Weather app. I love it.

So. You too can make your online life more ad-free. I really encourage you to give this great extension a try.

Gregory Yanez

With a degree in interactive media and computer science, Greg’s a technological wizard who does more than get his ratio of salsa to guacamole right…he knows how to build a gorgeous website with a CMS so clean it’ll bring tears to your eyes.

Comments

Share