Opera says it has become the first web browser to include a built-in ad blocker.
The new feature is now part of the latest free desktop version of the browser, the Oslo, Norway-based company announced in a blog post Thursday. It says Opera, which has a worldwide market share of just two per cent, is the "first major browser vendor" to integrate such a feature.
"If there were no bloated ads, some top websites would load up to 90 per cent faster," wrote Krystian Kolondra, senior vice president of global engineering for Opera.
"It's 2016, and we believe it's time for ads to be lighter and faster."
Frustration over annoying or intrusive ads or ads that make pages load sluggishly has already prompted many desktop users to install browser extensions that block ads, such as AdBlock Plus. PageFair, an Irish startup that tracks revenue lost to ad blocking, reported that ad blocking cost publishers nearly $22 billion in 2015. That year, ad blocking grew 48 per cent in the U.S. and 82 per cent in the U.K.
Opera says that because its ad blocker is built-in, it's faster than a browser extension – 45 per cent faster than Google Chrome with AdBlock Plus, it claims.
The company says that it hopes the built-in ad blocker, along with a new tool to "help advertisers and users understand the problem of heavy ads," will encourage advertisers to move toward less clunky and less intrusive ads more quickly.
Like other ad blockers, Opera's will allow users to enable ads or certain sites. It recommended technology sites CNET and TechCrunch as examples that "offer very good experience to their users with ads on – with only marginal delays in page loading."
Opera has a worldwide market share of about two per cent, according to StatCounter, which logs the type of browser used to view 3 million websites that use its page view counting widget. That means Opera is the fifth most popular browser in the world, behind Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari.