The German company says it wants to give people a way to block ads automatically when they surf the Web on their phones. As an added benefit, the company says users may see improved battery life and save on data costs because less digital content loads.
The new Adblock Browser is in “Beta” preview mode, and it’s only available for Android devices at the moment. But an iOS version will become available in the near future.
The desktop Adblock Plus browser extension, which works with Chrome and Firefox, has been downloaded more than 400 million times since its debut in 2006. Over the past four years, the number of people who have used ad blocking software has increased steadily to more than 144 million, or about 5% of global internet users, according to a recent study from Adobe.
But smartphones don’t allow for extensions, which is why the company released its own browser.
“A complete Android browser app is a natural progression for us,” Adblock Plus co-founder Till Faida said in a statement.
Digital businesses which depend on ad revenue will not see this as welcome news. But Adblock defended its browser, noting that it doesn’t block all ads. In fact, its mission is to promote non-intrusive advertising.
“Annoying” ads, such as pop-ups and pre-roll video ads, will always be blocked. “Acceptable” ads — ones without animation or sound, that do not block a page’s content, or are marked clearly as ads — will be allowed, and this is the default setting for the new browser.
There’s also a group of ads that will always be displayed. These ads comply with Adblock Plus’ criteria for acceptability, or the ad networks have paid the company to be unblocked.
New mobile technology companies have also been looking at ways to block ads on a larger scale. Shine, an Israeli startup, for example, has been working with wireless carriers around the world to design ways to control the amount of ads that flow through their services.
The message to ad tech companies and ad-driven websites is clear — find better ways of engaging with people without disturbing their online experience.
But beware. There’s a tech solution for every tech problem, even if you’re an advertiser facing this issue. One French company, Secret Media, has built software to override ad blockers, and it works on both desktops and mobile phones.