Everything about Ad Blockers: which ones are actually the best?

Ad Blockers

Even before the internet became popular, we were all actively looking for ways to avoid advertisements and advertising as much as possible. The commercial block on TV was used as a toilet break or for a quick walk. However, the advertising world cannot simply be turned upside down. The commercials on TV now no longer appear every hour, but almost every twenty minutes, and what you lack in commercials on TV can be seen in the supermarket, on the bus or on the internet. The biggest disadvantage is that you cannot ignore those annoying pop-up advertisements, adware , and banners on websites by walking the dog quickly. You really need some help with this. This is where an Ad Blocker comes in handy.

What is an Ad Blocker?

An AdBlocker is a program that blocks online advertisements for you. After the rise of the internet, online advertising became even more attractive than advertising on TV. Not only are the online advertisements a lot cheaper, the marketers also received tons of information (your internet use, searches, surfing behavior), so that targeted advertising suddenly came within their reach.

The emergence of online advertisements also made it possible for the AdBlockers to emerge. Every disadvantage has its advantage, we will say. These AdBlockers work on almost all devices, so both on desktop and laptop, as well as on the tablet and smartphone. This means that both the advertisements on web pages on the computer and the advertisements on the smartphone can be blocked. A huge blow to the online advertising world of course. These saw their profit margins suddenly fall sharply with the rise of AdBlockers.

Why do we use Ad Blockers?

It is not surprising that we install AdBlockers. We are exposed to an abundance of incentives throughout the day. We find these incentives in everyday activities, for example when you have to choose between sixteen different types of apples while shopping. In addition, many of those incentives also come from advertisements. Advertising in the bus shelter, advertising in the bus, advertising in the city center, on your mobile, in the store, on the tablet, at the counter, on billboards – and so on. This abundance of incentives makes it increasingly difficult for advertisers to stand out.

So how can an advertiser leave a lasting impression when his ad is overgrown by dozens of competitor ads? There are two options. He can do research and come up with an appropriate, creative expression that strikes you and stays with you. However, this costs a lot of time and money, so many advertisers quickly opt for the second option: a screaming, almost aggressive advertisement that stands head and shoulders above the competitors.

Ad Blockers come to the rescue

So what do we do as consumers? We set up our blinders. We try to filter all those incentives around us and, where possible, to ignore them. On the internet this quickly becomes more difficult, and that causes inconvenience. Before you have the opportunity to read the text that you have been looking for for hours, you first have to click away four pop-ups and banners. If you do not do this, the text is often unreadable. In this way you are almost forced to view advertisements before you can use the internet. This ensures that the freedom that the internet once gave us is being taken away bit by bit. Fortunately the AdBlockers come to the rescue there.

Installing an AdBlocker protects you against many advertisements. Unfortunately, this does not mean that you will be rid of those annoying pop-ups for the rest of your life. However, it will make your internet use a lot more pleasant. The purpose of an AdBlocker is to block those annoying, screaming and most irritating advertisements. This results in an ad-free internet, or in some cases in replacing these screaming ads with more subtle, pleasant variants that disturb the user of the AdBlocker less. How many ads are blocked depends on the AdBlocker that you install. More about this later.

Ad Blockers force advertisers to be creative

Downloading an AdBlocker offers you no guarantee for an ad-free internet life. It does, however, provide more appropriate, interesting and sometimes even fun advertising. Advertising agencies around the world are fighting the AdBlockers and seeing that their screaming ads no longer work. This means that after a long time of annoying pop-ups, creative thinking is finally needed. One way to do that is to show in the advertisement that they know that an AdBlocker is being used. For example, the advertisers behind Netflix devised a specific campaign aimed at the users of an AdBlocker. When they visited the news website The Next Web, they immediately saw an alarming advertisement with the text: “Hello adblocker user. You cannot see the ad. But the ad can see you. ”

Black Mirror Advertisement English

The way to make AdBlocker users click on the advertisement. They were then forwarded to the Netflix website. This creative campaign triggered many positive reactions even among AdBlocker users and shows that not all advertisements need to be annoying.

Holes in the defense

Although some companies are tackling this fight against AdBlockers in the right, creative way, many gaps still remain visible in the AdBlocker wall. For example, advertisers are advised to advertise as much as possible within mobile applications; these are (still) immune to AdBlockers. Certain websites are also made inaccessible unless the AdBlocker user (temporarily) disables the AdBlocker to be able to visit the website. When visiting these websites you immediately see a message with the ‘friendly request’ to turn off your AdBlocker so that you can view the content.

You also see that YouTube is being used more and more actively for video ads. Companies such as YouTube and Spotify are only too happy to benefit from this by offering a paid ‘ad-free’ use variant. Finally, not every AdBlocker is equally reliable. Some AdBlockers work behind the scenes with advertisers and are paid to let certain advertisements pass through the defense.

The 7 best Ad Blockers

An AdBlocker will not protect you against all forms of advertising. However, it can help a lot against the daily attacks of annoying, aggressive pop-ups that are only too happy to crawl over your screen. We have of course immediately selected for you which AdBlockers you can install best!

1. Ad Block

Adblock Logo

Probably the best in the field: AdBlock. This AdBlocker not only protects you against annoying pop-ups, but also against other advertisements such as those annoying YouTube advertisements. You can set this AdBlocker entirely to your liking by adding or removing filters. In this way, ultimately only advertisements that are really interesting to you will remain.

This AdBlocker can be installed as an extension for every browser. It is completely free and is used by around 60 million people worldwide. The small team behind the extension puts privacy first, which is why AdBlock does not need any personal data to work properly. In addition, the Malware Protection filter is switched on as standard, which means it offers better protection against malware. Another advantage is that you can whitelist specific pages and even YouTube channels, which means that you allow their ads. This allows you to support these websites or channels if they partly derive their income from advertisements.

Note: Do not confuse this AdBlocker with AdBlockPlus. Although the names are very similar, the possibilities of the extensions differ. Scroll down to find out more about AdBlock Plus.

2. uBlock Origin

uBlock Origin Logo

Just like AdBlock, uBlock Origin is also a highly valued AdBlocker that can be installed independently of the browser. With the uBlock Origin AdBlocker you can assume that all advertisements that can block this blocker will be blocked. It is an effective AdBlocker with many different options. If you want to avoid AdBlock, then uBlock Origin is a very good alternative.

This Adblocker is available for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and your Mac. It is one of the first AdBlockers to be made and is constantly being updated to ensure that new ads do not sneak through his fingers. In addition, the extension is also free.

Note: there is a difference between uBlock Origin and the uBlock.org website. Once you have installed uBlock Origin, you will notice that it is blocking the uBlock website. At first this seems like an error, but it is not. The two extensions, uBlock Origin and uBlock, have different logos and are not connected to each other. However, uBlock is asking for donations to develop its projects – this money does not go to uBlock Origin, which does not accept donations. So pay attention to this as soon as you start downloading this AdBlocker, and make sure you add the correct extension to your browser.

3. AdBlock Plus

Adblock Plus Logo

We have already mentioned this AdBlocker to prevent confusion with AdBlock. AdBlock Plus already existed before Adblock, but had no extension for Google Chrome, which AdBlock then responded to. Nowadays Adblock Plus is available for Chrome, just like for Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, Safari, Yandex Browser, Edge, Maxthon and Android. It is active on 100 million devices and is therefore the most popular browser extension.

AdBlock Plus counts the number of blocked ads on a webpage. So you can see at a glance how many advertisements you have bypassed. Like AdBlock, it also uses EasyList to determine which ads are blocked. You can adjust your preferences again.

In general, AdBlock Plus has a number of guidelines on which ads they can and will not allow. This is called the Acceptable Ads initiative. To help (small) websites still benefit from the advertisements on their pages, AdBlock Plus allows certain non-intrusive advertisements. This initiative is good for advertisers, but it also raises many questions. As AdBlock Plus says, there are a number of large companies that pay to be added to the Acceptable Ads initiative . This actually means that AdBlock Plus, a program designed to combat advertisements, earns money from advertisements.

5. Ghostery

Ghostery Logo

The other add-on that Snowden mentioned in the same breath as NoScript is Ghostery. Ghostery is an extension that focuses on managing website trackers. It reveals which tracking cookies are active on a website and gives you the option to block them. Because websites can no longer obtain certain information about you, the use of Ghostery makes your online experience a lot safer. Personalized ads are a thing of the past, so you no longer have to constantly look at all those wedding dresses that are offered at a discount because you informed Facebook last week that you were at your niece’s wedding.

Because many websites are getting a lot slower because of all the advertisements and trackers on it, Ghostery says that surfing makes it cleaner and faster. The advertisements are not shown, and your personal information is not used. There are a lot of promotions that no longer have to take place, so the website is faster.

Since 2017, Ghostery has been owned by the German company Cliqz. Cliqz is a privacy browser that has made its software open source. This means that everyone can see the code of the browser, and now also of the AdBlocker, to help with further developments. This also ensures that any problems or peculiarities within the extension quickly come to light. Ghostery is free and available for various browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Edge, Internet Explorer, and Cliqz itself. There is also a mobile version for both Android and iOS.

6. uMatrix

uMatrix screenshot large

This AdBlocker is made by Raymond Hill, who is also the developer of uBlock Origin. uMatrix is ​​primarily for advanced users. The uMatrix default settings use the opposite principle of most other AdBlockers. Instead of working with ‘blacklists’ and thus blocking specific websites, uMatrix blocks all external parties’ scripts by default. You can ‘whitelist’ pages and websites to ensure that they are executed immediately. This way you get a list of pages that you have approved and would like to see.

Due to this principle, the web pages that work with external scripts may look a little different after installing uMatrix and may not work as well. Fortunately all this can be adjusted. uMatix is ​​above all a precise tool: it stops everything, unless you have given explicit permission to display certain content.

uMatrix blocks cookies, advertisements, images, plug-ins, scripts and all kinds of other requests. You can view all of these to get a good overview of all the connections that a website requires from you. You can then submit all these requests separately or white or blacklist in one go. UMatrix also comes with extra settings to guarantee your privacy. uMatrix is ​​free and works on Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers.

7. Privacy Badger

Privacy Badger Logo

Privacy Badger is a smart free AdBlocker from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that automatically learns to block invisible trackers. Once the extension is installed, it starts monitoring the possible trackers on every website you visit. This means that in the first instance no cookies are blocked. Over time, Privacy Badger sees which third party cookies you are constantly following over the internet and blocks them. This way you will not always find the same handbag in your advertisements.

There are various ways in which Privacy Badger can respond to trackers. He can block them, not send them information, or fully allow them. If you want to adjust something to the automatic choice that Privacy Badger has made for you, you can easily adjust it within the extension.

This adblocker is quite unique and will probably get better the longer it is used and the errors that may be in the system are filtered out. Privacy Badger currently works on Opera, Chrome, Firefox, and Firefox on Android.

The best Adblockers: a short summary

To make it easy for you to choose between the various adblockers, we have included a brief overview of the best adblockers below. In this overview you will also find a short description of the adblocker in question.

AdBlockEntirely free.Extensions for most browsers.Most used adblocker.You can whitelist sites and YouTube channels to make them earn advertising money.Also has a Malware protection filter.
uBlock OriginEntirely free.Works on Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Mac.Regular updates.Whitelisting possible and many extra options.
AdBlock PlusEntirely free.Works on Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, Safari, Yandex Browser, Edge, Maxthon, and AndroidWhitelisting possible.Allows some non-interfering ads based on the ‘Acceptable-Ads Initiative’.Part of Google therefore may collect data for other purposes.
NoScriptEntirely free.Built-in to Mozilla browsers such as Firefox.Cannot be used on Internet Explorer and Google Chrome.In addition to Ads, other cookies and scripts can also be blocked.
GhosteryEntirely free.Works on Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Edge, Internet Explorer, Cliqz, Android and iOS.Focused on blocking website trackers (including cookies).Just like other website tracker blockers, sites often get faster.
uMatrixEntirely freeWorks on Chrome, Firefox, and most other browsersFor advanced usersWorks with whitelist instead of blacklistsComplete control, overview of all requests and extra privacy settings
Privacy BadgerEntirely freeWorks on Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and Firefox on AndroidLearns to block invisible trackers automaticallyAdapts to your internet use

Be careful with …

AdBlockPlus and AdBlockers that are actually a Google Chrome extension. Not because these protect you less well against advertisements or the collection of cookies, but because Google itself collects a lot of data about your internet behavior. This data is then used for targeted advertising. This does not of course have to be a problem. However, that does put the Google AdBlockers into question: to what extent are these impartial? If you want to be sure of your case, use a Google AdBlocker in combination with an AdBlocker from another, independent party.

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