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What is ad blocking?

Mar 05, 2018 · 4 min read

What is ad blocking?

Even if you don’t hate Internet advertising, you are probably not very fond of it either. This is hardly surprising given that ads follow everywhere you go online.

If they could just sit quietly in a sidebar of the website… But no – all kinds of ads flood your Facebook feed, instantly appear between paragraphs of the article you try to read, or even cover the whole screen. As advertising material often disrupts users from accessing the content they want, it’s no wonder ad blockers are so popular. According to a recent study conducted by Reuters, around a quarter of Internet users has an ad blocking software installed.

If you are not familiar with the ad blocking technique yet, here’s what you need to know.

What ad blocking software does

To put it simply, an ad blocker, is usually a browser extension that removes advertising material from websites. While a site is loading, the ad blocking software checks the domain names of the elements loading on the web page against massive blacklists. If any site component is flagged as advertising material, the ad blocker stops it from loading. After the page content is displayed, the ad blocker looks for elements that meet certain rules, e.g., images in common banner dimensions, and hides them from the screen.

image what is adblocking

Why do people use ad blockers?

The good thing about ad blocking is that it significantly improves your browsing experience by removing annoying pop-ups, video ads, and huge piles of content that doesn’t interest you at all. However, besides the obvious – browsing without ads – there are other benefits of installing an ad blocking software:

  • Security. Online advertising is often used by cybercriminals to distribute malware, so using ad blockers can actually save your device from being infected.
  • Privacy. The software also prevents third-party trackers from loading, meaning advertisers no longer can collect information about your online behavior.
  • Better speeds. Websites will open faster because they won’t have to load dozens of advertising tags, plug-ins, and third-party analytics.

Already have an ad blocker? Here’s why you may want to turn it off

With an ad blocker turned on, you can finally read your favorite articles, watch Youtube videos and browse in peace without flashy ads popping on your screen. While it is a definite benefit for you as a reader, it is quite the opposite for publishers that simply don’t get paid for ads that don’t reach you.

scheme what is ad blocking

This is because the content you are used to accessing for free is actually paid by ads. More specifically, advertisers only pay for ads that get served. So if an ad doesn’t appear on your mobile or desktop screen as expected because you have blocked it, the news portal you love to read every day simply won’t get paid.

Publishers, of course, try their best to find ways around ad blocking. Some of them engage in producing sponsored content, others offer paid subscriptions or ask you politely to whitelist their website or at least pause your ad blocker for a while. There’s also a practice to prevent readers from accessing the content if an ad blocker is turned on.

Adblock detected


Like it or not, but for now advertising is an indispensable part of the Internet ecosystem. Ads can be interesting and engaging, just as they can be extremely intrusive and annoying, but they are also the reason your favorite websites and online services exist. So if you ask whether to use an ad blocker or not, the answer is simple: yes. But for the sake of reputable websites and content creators, pause it from time to time.

How to choose an ad blocking software?

Now that Google has introduced its built-in ad blocker, browsing ad-free is even easier – at least for Chrome users. Google’s new feature will remove intrusive “pre-sital” ads, the ones that pop up on the screen before you even enter the website. It will also block autoplay videos and any advertising material that covers more than a third of the screen on mobile devices. This is great news, but you will still need an additional ad blocking tool, because the new feature will only block certain types of ads and will let others through.

AdBlock and AdBlockPlus are probably the most popular picks when it comes to choosing an ad blocker. These browser extensions are able to block pop-ups, rollovers, banner ads, and more. The problem with unique browser extensions and add-ons is that, when combined with information about your operating system, they can be used to draw a quite accurate “fingerprint” of your device. This “fingerprint” makes it easy for third-parties to identify and monitor your behavior online. So the more extensions and add-ons you have in your browser, the easier it is to track you.

Nevertheless, browser extensions remain the most popular choice among Internet users, because they are free or low cost, they are easy-to-use, and they definitely do their job to block ads. So if you are looking for an add-on to avoid ads, these are worth trying:

  • uBlock Origin
  • CanvasBlocker
  • Privacy Badger
  • NoScript
  • HTTPS Everywhere

Another option is to get VPN (Virtual Private Network) with a built-in ad blocker, which prevents ads from following you online and keeps your browsing activity safe at the same time.

mobile smartphone nordvpn

NordVPN’s CyberSec technology efficiently blocks suspicious domains so that no malware or other cyber threats can infect your device. On top of that, it will hide unwanted pop-ups, autoplay video ads, and other advertising material the moment you enter a website, allowing you to enjoy the content you are there for.

Lewis Lambert Fox
Lewis Lambert Fox successVerified author

Lewis is a content writer at NordVPN and a true explorer when it comes to cybersecurity. He’s always on a mission to examine the tech world through the lens of privacy and share his findings and useful tips with blog readers.

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