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Opera is testing a built-in ad blocker that encourages people to use it

Opera will be the first major browser with a built-in ad blocker, if a feature currently offered in the developer build makes its way to the general release. Ad blockers for other browsers are created by third parties and released as an extension.

Install Opera Developer right now, start browsing, and before long you’ll see a popup asking “Would you like to block ads and surf faster?” If you click yes, ads will start being blocked.

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Publishers probably aren’t going to be happy with that, but Opera doesn’t stop there. Click the ad blocker’s icon and you’ll see how many ads have been blocked on a particular page. From there users can run a benchmark, comparing the load time for the site they’re currently browsing with and without ad blocking. The intent seems to be to teach users the degree to which ads are slowing down their browsing experience.

“Our goal is to provide the fastest and the smoothest online experience for our users,” Krystian Kolondra, told PC World. “While working on that we have discovered that a lot more time is spent on handling ads and trackers than we thought earlier.”

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Advertising isn’t a feature of the Web anyone loves, but it does help pay for content that is currently free to users. Publishers, already hit by decreasing ad revenue, have long argued that ad blocking hurts their ability to make content, and will even ask users to whitelist their pages.

Opera has a long history of adding features not included by default on other browsers: tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking, browser sessions, and private browsing all showed up on Opera before arriving on other major browsers like Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Chrome. But those innovations never translated into a large market share for Opera, which first came out 21 years ago in April of 1995. Opera’s market share has never cracked the double digits, and according to StatCounter, it currently has a two-percent share of the desktop/laptop browser market.

Adding an ad blocker probably won’t lead to a huge spike in numbers: ad blockers are readily available on other platforms, after all. But Opera is clearly showing what side of the ad blocking fight they’re on, something users and publishers alike will surely notice.