The latest version of the Opera desktop browser includes a built-in, ad-blocking feature that aims to improve user experience, a move that is starting to concern some ad firms and publishers who rely on reaching Web users with online ads.
Opera’s desktop browser is the fifth largest in the world, so its updated version could potentially impact growth opportunities for various online marketers. By eliminating activity that occurs behind the scenes in a user’s browser while ads are being served, Opera claims its Web pages will be able to load faster, cutting page load times by nearly 90 percent.
"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 told Reuters.com.
The move to include built-in ad blocking could help Opera differentiate itself from competitors like Safari and Chrome. One big concern for online marketers is the possibility that Opera’s competitors will decide that they, too, need to introduce similar features. While none of the four other major browsers come with built-in ad blocking, Apple's iOS9 update brought ad blocking to its mobile Safari browser. Opera said it plans to bring built-in ad blocking to its mobile browser next, where it has 281 million users, far more than its desktop browser.
Demand for ad-blocking should abate when messages become less disruptive and more relevant, said another Opera spokeswoman. The Interactive Advertising Bureau has addressed ad blocking more than once in recent times, as it’s a growing trend that could change the way companies market to online users. For now, marketers are hoping the majority of users stick to Chrome or Safari where automatic ad blocking is not a feature.