Opera be­comes first big browser maker with built-in ad-blocker

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Nor­we­gian com­pany Opera is in­tro­duc­ing a new ver­sion of its desk­top com­puter browser that prom­ises to load web pages faster by in­cor­po­rat­ing ad-block­ing, a move that makes rein­ing in ad­ver­tis­ing a ba­sic fea­ture in­stead of an af­ter­thought.

Faster load­ing, in­creased pri­vacy and se­cu­rity and a de­sire for fewer dis­trac­tions are be­hind the grow­ing de­mand for ad-block­ers.

How­ever, their pop­u­lar­ity is cut­ting into the growth of on­line mar­ket­ing for site pub­lish­ers and cor­po­rate brands, who rely on reach­ing web and mo­bile users to pay for their con­tent rather than re­strict­ing ac­cess to paid sub­scribers.

Opera has a his­tory of in­tro­duc­ing in­no­va­tions that later be­come com­mon in ma­jor browsers such as tabbed brows­ing and pop-up block­ing, which helped users con­trol an ear­lier gen­er­a­tion of in-your-face ads and mal­ware dis­guised as ad­ver­tis­ing.

"Ad-block­ing tech­nol­ogy is an op­por­tu­nity and a wake-up call to the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try to pay at­ten­tion to what con­sumers are ac­tu­ally say­ing," an Opera spokes­woman said.

Opera said it can cut page-load­ing times by as much as 90% by elim­i­nat­ing the com­plex dance that oc­curs be­hind the scenes in a user's browser as var­i­ous third-party ad net­works de­liver pro­mo­tional mes­sages to users.

The Nor­we­gian com­pany, which has agreed to a takeover by a group of Chi­nese firms led by Bei­jing Kun­lun Tech in a cash deal val­ued at $1.23 bil­lion, in­tro­duced its first com­puter web browser in 1995.

With the rise of the smart­phone, it shifted to fo­cus on the mo­bile browser and ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket, where it now de­rives most of its rev­enue and counts 281 mil­lion users.

Opera said on Thurs­day it was in­tro­duc­ing a ver­sion of its browser aimed at soft­ware de­vel­op­ers and early adopters, but will even­tu­ally of­fer the fea­ture for both com­put­ers and phones.

The Oslo-based firm ranks a dis­tant fifth be­hind more main­stream desk­top com­put­ers browsers from Mi­crosoft, Google, Fire­fox and Ap­ple. The com­pany counts 60 mil­lion ac­tive monthly desk­top users world­wide.

Opera sees no con­tra­dic­tion in the fact that it re­lies on ad­ver­tis­ing for a big chunk of its own rev­enue but is in­tro­duc­ing ad-block­ing con­trol fea­tures in its prod­ucts. De­mand for ad­block­ing should abate when mes­sages be­came less dis­rup­tive and more rel­e­vant, an Opera spokes­woman said.

Be­cause it is build­ing the fea­tures di­rectly into its browser, page de­liv­ery times are 40% faster than ex­ist­ing ad­blocker plug-ins, or browser ex­ten­sions, it said. Top plug-in providers in­clude AdBlock, AdMuncher and Ghostery that run on top of ex­ist­ing browsers.

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