Here's an intriguing new twist in the debate over adblockers: starting in early 2016, AdBlock Plus will be "baked-in" to electronics company Asus' proprietary browser that ships with all of its products—that is, it will be activated by default.
Several months ago, concern over consumers' use of AdBlock came to a head, when adblocking apps finally became available for smartphones. In addition to being annoying, ads also make users more susceptible to malware, so there are real security benefits to using a product like AdBlock Plus. But media companies, still shaky after the move from print to web publishing, depend on users seeing those ads for revenue. It's a difficult situation with no easy solution.
Now, the idea of making an adblocker a built-in default browsing option (versus a separately downloaded browser extension) has the opportunity to set a precedent that could cause some real friction. Admittedly, the Asus Browser has a small user base, with only 15 million estimated users, but if other browsers and manufacturers choose to follow their example, the online ad industry is going to have their work cut out for them.
Presently, some ads are allowed through AdBlock Plus's filters, as part of its Acceptable Ads program that was offered as an olive branch to advertisers. ("Acceptable" ads are vetted to make sure they're relatively unobtrusive and aren't portals to malware.) Advertisers have also been accelerating the use of unconventional ways to advertise—via sponsored content or native advertising on a site. But this sort of maneuver is really only accessible to bigger brands with ample budgets.
In a release sent to Motherboard, AdBlock Plus co-founder and CEO Till Faida said, "We're extremely happy to team up with Asus, the first major hardware manufacturer to integrate ad blocking into their mobile devices. This is another call for innovation in the ad industry—a call getting louder by the day."