As large Web publishers like AOL and Yahoo struggle to build content and ad formats that attract premium ad dollars, and privacy concerns around ad tracking and targeting increase, people around the world are downloading a popular ad blocker for the Firefox browser. However, despite the fact that Adblock Plus has been downloaded over 100 million times since January 2006, its impact on the U.S. ad market - or other markets for that matter - is unclear.
The open-source Firefox add-on allows users to set up filters, usually created by other developers, that enable blocking of ads or other undesirable content. In the case of one filter called "Social Integration" that works with Adblock Plus, for instance, third-party social tools and services are blocked from Web pages.
According to data from Firefox parent organization Mozilla, around 3.7 million of Adblock's 12.3 million active daily users are listed as having an English-U.S. locale. However, according to Wladimir Palant, lead developer of Adblock Plus, because that locale is widely used outside the U.S., "it is hard to make conclusions" from that data.
Image provided by Mozilla
The next two locales with the most active daily users of the tool are Germany (2.5 million) and Russia (1.4 million).
Depending on the filters users enable, any type of ad unit can be disabled by the system, Palant told ClickZ News in an e-mail. This could include in-stream video ads, interstitials, Gmail ads, or ads in paid search results.
Even Adblock developers recognize that publishers rely on ad revenue to produce and distribute free content. Users can disable the system for certain sites, according to the Adblock site, which states, "Many web sites depend on advertising income, and if you visit a web site frequently you might want to allow their advertising - provided that this advertising isn't too annoying."
Filters for the software that disable analytics and ad tracking systems are also available.
According to the software site, Adblock Plus became the most downloaded Firefox add-on less than a year after its inception in 2006. The developers claim it has stayed at the top of the list since that time.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
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