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By Ronan Shields, Digital Editor

March 10, 2016 | 3 min read

Web browser Opera has unveiled a native ad-blocking feature, which it claims can help improve page load times by up to 90 per cent, and also help advertisers to better understand the problems posed by heavy advertising.

The Norway-based company is the latest online player to throw its lot into the industry’s hottest debate with the introduction of the native ad-blocking technology in its developer channel which can then block ads at the web engine level, a feature it claims will help maximise page load speeds, sometimes up to 90 per cent faster.

Krystian Kolondra, Opera’s SVP of global engineering, made the announcement in a blog post. It read: “We are the first major browser vendor to integrate an ad-blocking feature, but this development should be no surprise to anyone given the rising popularity of ad-blocking software and even Apple allowing it on its platform."

Kolondra went on to acknowledge the importance of online advertising, but noted that the industry had evolved in such a way that consumer trust is increasingly eroded due to a careless approach producing bandwidth-heavy ad units, as well as the many bad actors in the space peddling fake ads, and malware.

“This is why, together with the native ad-blocking feature, we also provide a tool to help advertisers and users understand the problem of heavy ads. We believe this will accelerate the change that the ad industry needs to pursue,” he added.

However, Opera’s approach to ad blocking will differ from alternatives, such as Shine Technologies (which blanket blocks ads) and Eyeo’s AdBlock Plus (which operates a whitelist policy) as its ad-blocking feature is deactivated by default.

“While browsing, Opera will detect whether there are ads that can be blocked, and it will suggest enabling the ad-blocking feature. To activate or deactivate ad-blocking for a specific website, simply click the shield icon in the address bar and flip the switch,” explained Kolondra (see video for more).

The launch comes the same week as The Financial Times gave further insight into its ‘Next FT’ project which is aimed at improving page load times etc, in the wake of the rising tide of ad-blocking, plus UK government ministers voicing anti ad-blocking sentiments, including the possibility of legal intervention to help aid the media industry at yesterday's ISBA conference.


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