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Adblock Plus allegedly improves network performance, but at a cost

It cuts down on wasted bandwidth and speeds up page loading, but that's not the only affect it's had on the tech industry.

AdBlock Plus impact network bandwidth performance page loading study
Credit: Thinkstock

Site ads are a nuisance, we all know that. Some of them are obnoxious in the extreme, such as videos that autoplay without your approval. This has given rise to advertising blockers, most notably Adblock Plus, which has earned the ire of major advertising firms like Microsoft and Google.

See also: How Adblock Plus could work as malware protection

German publishers have gone so far as to take Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus, to court. However, in May a Munich court ruled completely in Eyeo's favor. Even the CEO of Secret Media, which works to help companies get around ad blockers, said this was a big mistake.

Now comes research that shows blocking advertising isn't just sparing you a nuisance, it will do wonders for your local bandwidth. A study out of the Simon Fraser University in British Columbia found that using Adblock Plus can save between 25% and 40% of network bandwidth if deployed across an internal enterprise network. 

The study found that huge amounts of bandwidth can be saved by blocking Web-based advertisements and video trailers, which tend to start whether you want them or not. 

"The purpose of this study was to fill this knowledge gap and evaluate the effectiveness of Adblock Plus in an enterprise environment, and document any reduction in network traffic," said Malcolm Toms, manager of network operations in the faculty of arts and social sciences at Simon Fraser University. 

The study was carried out over a period of six weeks and involved 100 volunteers in an active enterprise computing environment at the university. The study's main conclusion was that Adblock Plus was not only effective in blocking online advertisements, but that it "significantly" reduced network data usage. 

The timing is ideal for Eyeo, which released an enterprise installer version of Adblock Plus for Chrome and Firefox, so businesses can do a mass install across their network. 

Well, that's good news, right? No pesky videos and bandwidth reduction. Well, not so fast. A study by Adobe claims that ad blocking will lead to almost $22 billion of lost advertising revenue this year. That's a 41% rise compared to the previous 12 months, since Adblocker Plus and other plugins like it are only growing more popular.

The report was conducted by Adobe and PageFair, a startup that helps companies and advertisers recoup some of this lost revenue by ad blockers. And what are the most-effected websites? Gaming and tech sites.

Since my paycheck comes from advertising, by using Adblock Plus I'm effectively cutting my own throat. Yes, I recognize the irony.

It's good that there are companies like Secret Media helping to find a balance. I'm all for supporting publications in this new web model since print has pretty much dropped dead as a medium (and I think we will regret this, much like audiophiles are returning to vinyl instead of digital downloads). There needs to be a medium. When I turn off my Adblock Plus, some sites just assault me. That has to stop.

Must read: Hidden Cause of Slow Internet and how to fix it
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