Opera has made the move to introduce built-in ad-blocking to its desktop browser, with the feature incorporated into the developer version of the browser as of today.
The company notes that it’s the first major web browser to have ad-blocking baked in, and is pushing the idea that an integrated system is best (as opposed to a third-party extension) in terms of eking out extra performance and faster browsing.
The system is even proactive, in that the browser will suggest that the feature be turned on when adverts that could be blocked are encountered, asking the user: “Would you like to block ads and surf the web faster?” You can then elect to block ads, or refuse the offer.
Flipside of the equation
Of course, the flipside of blocking adverts is the potential impact on the economics of the web and free content online in general. Some businesses and websites rely on advertising to make their money, and would go under without that revenue.
Krystian Kolondra, SVP of Engineering and Head of Opera, acknowledges this point, commenting: “Advertising fuels the internet, allowing for many services to be free for users.”
He then adds that Opera is going after bloated web pages, stating: “But, as our new research shows, most webpages today are significantly slowed down by bloated ads and heavy tracking. We don’t accept it – we want the web to be a better place for us all, as users.”
Opera claims that its ad-blocking tech can speed up web page loading times by up to 90%, and is 40% faster on average compared to a third-party advert blocking extension, the latter being possible because the filtering occurs at the web-engine level.
The new system also allows users to benchmark web page load times themselves, and there’s also an exception list so even if you turn ad-blocking on, you can disable the blocking on specific sites.
While this announcement is about the desktop browser, we asked Opera whether this capability was destined for the company’s mobile software as well, and received the response: “Yes, we expect this technology to come soon to Opera’s mobile browsers.”