A startup has released a calculator to help you work out how much money mobile ad blockers can save you on your data plan

Rob leathern
Optimal.com CEO Rob Leathern. Twitter

Optimal.com, a startup that offers an “ethical” ad blocking service that will allow users to pay their favourite publishers not to show them ads, has released an online calculator for people to work out how much money they could save on their monthly data plans if they downloaded a mobile ad blocker.

On average, a US mobile user will save $7.19 per month in excess data charges by using a mobile ad blocker when browsing the web on their phones, Optimal.com claims.

The calculator — currently only available for iPhone ad blocker data, with other operating systems and browser extensions coming soon — asks users to input the number of minutes they spend browsing a day on the mobile web, the percentage of that browsing that takes place using mobile data (rather than WiFi,) how much their carrier charges for each GB they go over their monthly data limit.

Screen Shot 2016 04 12 at 11.52.32 AM
The Optimal.com mobile ad blocking calculator. Optimal.com

Users must also select where in Optimal.com’s ad blocker rankings their mobile ad blocker of choice sits.

Optimal.com has tested hundreds of iOS 9.2 content blockers to determine its rankings. It ran all the blockers through a tracking proxy for three minutes on a set of seven “leading US-oriented news, information, and weather websites.” The cookies on the device were then reset and the results were compared to control tests on the same set of websites without ad blockers on.

The ad blockers were then scored based on how many URLs they block across the sites in the test, how much bandwidth they save, and how they perform when blocking ad servers, video, content, and tracking.

Optimal.com’s current findings show that Purify is the “best” ad blocker, for the iPhone, with a score of 98%. The ad blocker costs $1.99 and claims on its website to save “50% of your data usage.”

Optimal.com’s top 10 iOS 9 content blockers at the time of writing are:

  1. Purify
  2. Eluo
  3. NeverAds
  4. Clean Surf
  5. Clean Surf Pro
  6. FewerAds
  7. Advert Blocker
  8. Diamond Ad-Blocker
  9. Wipr
  10. Focus

We asked Optimal.com CEO Rob Leathern whether publishing such a list will simply encourage more people to download ad blockers, suppressing ad revenue from the publishers it is ultimately intending to help — and also whether there was a risk that users may simply opt to download the blockers that Optimal.com has singled out as the “best,” and not its own $5.99 per month service.

He responded:

We’ve been running these tests for a few months and there have been several different blockers in the top 10 (some free and some paid, like Purify,) and since all the blocker ratings are free with registration we have no problem with people making their own choices.

We hope that people will choose to subscribe and support publishers by paying $5.99 a month, but on balance given the privacy, data use, and malware problems we think ad blocking makes sense for users.

Optimal.com provides the best free resources for learning about them (and this week will have ratings on other blockers which will also help people avoid the fake blockers available in the Chrome store for example.) The calculator is another simple resource that aggregates data to indicate to users what is happening unbeknownst to them (e.g. Over 1,000 URLs loading that would be blocked without affecting their ability to view the site.)

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