The perfect ad blocker — what is it like?
I've been developing ad blockers for 12 years now and I've been always striving to make our products the best among all the alternatives available. And it makes me think about what "the best" means. The most multifunctional? The quickest, or the easiest one to use? The most beatifully looking maybe?
The thing is, ad blockers differ significantly from "ordinary" programs. You can't really use ad blockers to create some kind of content, you hardly interact with them, but in spite of that you constantly witness the main output of their silent work. Have you ever tried disabling your ad blocker and seeing what the Internet looks like without it? It is impossible not to notice the difference.
Of course, there's a whole range of things ad blockers do, it's just not easy to see them in action. For instance, while you are browsing websites or using apps on your phone, you won't necessarily spot the signs that your ad blocker has prevented third parties from tracking your online activity. And yet, it happens all the time.
Actually, it would be correct to describe an ad blocker as an "Internet enhancer". Without it, the web is aggressive and intrusive, and consists of a bunch of scattered pieces that each fight over your attention and try to distract you from the content you came for in the first place.
So what constitutes the perfect ad blocker? In my view, the perfect ad blocker is the one that doesn't exist. Weird, huh? The perfect ad blocker is not defined by what it is, but rather by what it produces — that very best version of the internet. I don't want to install a bunch of software on all my devices or in my browsers, or to think about it at all, to be honest. And it's not enough for me to have a "framed window" to the best Internet. Absolutely everything is connected to the Internet these days, from TV to smart light bulbs. Why would I limit myself to just one browser?
I just wish that the entire Internet I use was better, no matter how I do it. Without annoying ads and the constant threat of malvertising, without thousands of companies watching me and aggregating my data. Finally, I want to have my own version of the Internet that's under my control, so that I could set my own rules when I find it necessary.
Sadly, there is no such thing as the perfect ad blocker yet. We have to settle for such "windows" to better Internet by installing special programs that carve them out for us.
Is there a chance that the perfect ad blocker will appear in the future? Honestly, I don't think so. DNS blockers such as AdGuard DNS or AdGuard Home partially meet the requirements listed above. They require no software installation, all you have to do is to set your device to use a proper DNS server once and you get ad-free Internet. However, apart from the advantages, there are also quite a few drawbacks to the DNS approach to ad blocking.
On October 21st I'll be doing a detailed report on using DNS for ad blocking purposes at the annual Adblocker Dev Summit. If you'd like to learn more about the pros and cons of this method (and maybe even listen to other speakers), register to join the event. Or just wait until we publish the report on our blog — we always do.