If there’s one thing that almost everyone online can agree with, it’s the fact that advertisement has gotten severely out of control. Even though it’s a perfectly legitimate monetization platform for many sites looking to publish informative and interesting information (yes, I’m patting us on the back) that doesn’t change the fact that ads have become extremely pervasive, intrusive, and in some cases, quite startling in their ability to market specifically to us as individuals. Software exists to mitigate advertising’s presence, but how well it works is just as variable as the advertising industry itself. Today, we’ll take a look at two of the most popular ad prevention applications–Adblock and Adblock Plus–in order to provide a comparison and accurate reviews of each. They’re both widely used by thousands of people, but will they work for you?
Advertising is everywhere. The simple fact is that advertising has been everywhere, for decades prior to the internet’s introduction to the mainstream. Everyone from major corporations to small businesses depends on it to generate leads and interest for the sale of their products, but it’s online culture that has truly begun to transform the ad industry as we know it. Everyone is online, and with every year that passes, everyone is spending a great sum total of their time online. If they’re not browsing, they’re using social media and messaging applications. If they’re not doing either of these things, then they’re certainly still “connected” by way of a mobile device, like an iPhone.
Because everyone is online, it’s where advertisement professionals dedicate a massive amount of time, energy, and money. So much so that monetization platforms for ad placement practically control internet traffic. Clicks are king and the more traffic that one can generate to their site, the greater their potential revenue. Of course, this resulted in a mess for quite a few years, in which absolutely anything that people put online could be profitable, as long as it attracted traffic. Now, Google has taken leaps and bounds to ensure that search engine traffic is directed towards information and sites that are well-sourced, useful, and worth your time.
Where do ad-blocking applications fit into this? Largely, they’re a result of people feeling oppressed by the ad culture that now dominates most online activity. An ad blocker prevents banner ads and pop-ups from displaying at all, thereby liberating people from having to put up with them on every site they visit.
However, ad blockers are a double-edged sword. They might liberate people from having to view advertisements–many of which can be obnoxiously intrusive–but they also disrupt revenue operations online. Web sites that you might be fond of won’t benefit nearly as much from your traffic if you’re using an ad blocker.
Regardless, Adblock and Adblock Plus are hugely popular. If you’re thinking about using an ad blocker, these are almost certainly the two that you’ll be choosing between.
What Does an Ad Blocker Do?
The purpose of any ad blocking application is right in the name. They’re designed to weed out the banner and pop-up advertisements that are so prevalent across the internet. Ideally, they prevent ad graphics from appearing at all, but since they’re all independently developed, they never quite reach their ideal potential.
Part of this is due to the nature of the battle they’re fighting. Large corporate and business interests responsible for developing fantastic software are largely fueled and funded by advertising themselves. Considering how important advertisement is to monetization online, it’s not in any company’s best interest to support or develop an ad blocker.
Thus, independent developers are often stacked up against massive ad agencies and companies that are determined to circumvent their effectiveness. After all, why would an ad agency ever want to put up with something that stymies their sales funnel? They absolutely wouldn’t, and therefore, no ad blocker is ever going to be 100% effective. Not only is it a constant battle, it’s a constant uphill battle.
Are Ad Blockers Legal?
In spite of how much they can muddle with the proper functioning of online traffic, ad blockers are entirely legal. This might change in the future, but for now, there’s nothing stopping you from using one of these applications to better control your online experience. Want to eliminate ads from your browsing? You’re free to use any extension or software in order to do so. It is, after all, your experience.
This is an interesting topic to keep an eye on, however. Ad blockers directly interfere with several levels of online monetization, and as much as they’re aimed to reduce the intrusiveness of ads, they themselves are intrusive to business models. It wouldn’t come as any surprise to see this type of software come under legal fire, sometime in the future. For now, however, go wild!
Adblock Plus was one of the first, great ad blockers to be deployed across several different web browsers. The advent and incorporation of “extensions” helped to revolutionize what ad blocking software was capable of, as well as how easily it could be found and installed by all sorts of users. After all, between web browsers, antivirus software, and all of the other programs that we use in our day-to-day lives, having to add another to the repertoire would have just replaced ads with another level of intrusiveness.
Thus, Adblock Plus is a browser extension, and it’s better for it. It’s not even necessary for us to provide a download link. Simply head to your current browser’s extension platform (likely accessed through the settings menu) and search for Adblock Plus. It’s a free download that takes no time at all to set up and implement.
It’s been around for several years, and while it’s one of the most noteworthy ad blockers, it’s also one of the most controversial. A few years ago, Adblock Plus incorporated an “acceptable ads” initiative that allowed for certain advertising platforms to be “whitelisted” within the extension. Whitelisted ads wouldn’t be blocked, which meant that the application meant to be an ad blocker would begin allowing some advertisements to be filtered through. Google Adwords placements, in particular, managed to sneak through this filter, and it has brought Adblock Plus a considerable amount of suspicion.
Regardless, it’s one of the most frequently-used ad blockers online. In spite of the controversy, it’s also one of the best.
It might be tempting to assume that AdBlock and Adblock Plus are related to one another, but apart from the glaring similarity in names, they are not. Adblock Plus was originally developed on Firefox before being deployed to other browsers, while AdBlock was released in Google Chrome, the very same year that extensions were first made available in the browser.
Even though it recently changed owners in 2015, AdBlock remains relatively the same as it was on the day it was released. It has evolved and grown to combat new forms of banner advertisements, and it has been deployed to all major web browsers, but not much else has changed. It’s still easy to use, it’s still free, and it can be set up with minimal fuss from your browser’s extension function.
However, in spite of it being a very popular tool, AdBlock is participating in the very same “acceptable ads” program that Adblock Plus is, thereby drawing the same suspicions and skepticism that plague the other ad blocking service. Because it’s the same program, the same advertisements that are whitelisted in other ad blocking extensions will sneak through AdBlock’s filters.
Adblock Plus vs. Adblock
So, when it comes down to the wire, which of these two services is better? Combined, they represent the vast majority of ad blocking extensions used online. In spite of the controversy surrounding the “acceptable ads” program that both participate in, they work quite well. But which of them is best, and which one should you opt to choose?
It’s a more difficult decision to make than you might think, and most users will not actually see any difference between the two. Now that they’re deployed across multiple web browsers, the choice is almost inconsequential. However, if forced to decide, the decision will hinge on which of two browsers you’re using–Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
Adblock Plus was originally developed for Firefox, and thus we would recommend it as the ad blocker of choice for that browser. The same goes for AdBlock and Google Chrome, respectively, but the differences between the two are so minute that you will struggle to see any difference in performance. They’ll block most of the same ads, while at the same time letting most of the same few ads through their filters.
Though you might have been expecting a clear victor between these two ad blockers, the reality is that they largely provide the exact same service. We hope that the above primer on each of them has helped you to decide which might be better for you! Any questions leftover about ad blockers, their use, or the two that we’ve taken to task? Let us know in the comments, below!