Opera Software has officially launched the new version of its web browser and “mini” browser for Android smartphones that both come packed with an in-built ad blocker.
Rather than downloading a browser extension or app, Opera users can now activate ad blocking in the settings of their browsers.
However, there are four sites Opera has deliberately chosen not to block ads on: Google, Facebook, Chinese search engine Baidu, and Russian search engine Yandex.
None of those sites have paid to appear in Opera’s exception list (unlike Adblock Plus’ Acceptable Ads list, which requires the biggest sites split revenue with the ad blocking company in order to have their ads whitelisted), an Opera spokesperson told Business Insider.
Instead, the company picked out these sites because they offer “a very good experience to their users with ads on,” the spokesperson said.
Users can also manage the exceptions list themselves — adding more sites to the whitelist, or removing those four sites should they wish.
Writing in a blog post, Opera’s SVP of global engineering for computer browsers, Krystian Kolandra, noted that the company was aware it needs to “provide a better solution for the future” when it comes to the whitelist.
“The big question is: which ads are good, which are bad for the users, and who is responsible for making it better? Apparently the answer is ‘not me’, from everyone in the ad-value chain, according to this post on Medium,” Kolanda wrote.
At first, Opera considered implementing its own solution — as Adblock Plus does — but after talking to advertising industry bodies like the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the company decided it can do more to influence the ad industry to change by working with them on their standardization efforts.
Last year, the IAB released its “LEAN” online advertising program in response to the growth of ad blocking. “LEAN” stands for “light, encrypted, Ad Choice-supported, non-invasive” ads and the principles are designed to help advertising companies, publishers, and marketers create better, faster-loading online ads that consumers are less likely to block.
Kolanda continued: “Opera is now talking with IAB to see how a browser can implement support for their LEAN initiative, once this is ready, if it truly manages to serve the end user needs for speed.”
Speed is the name of the game for Opera. The company says in a press release its new Opera for Computers browser is “45% faster” than Google Chrome with third-party ad blocking extensions installed, while Opera Mini for Android is “40%” faster, thanks to the removal of ads.
Opera says 60 million people already use its web browser, while 120 million use Opera Mini for Android each month.
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