Here’s something to think about next time you’re watching the slow spinning wheel of death: the average American spends 60 hours per year (two and a half full days!) waiting for webpages to load. Thankfully, there is something you can do about it. Turns out the right adblocker can get you a whole day back.
That’s right. With a lightweight adblocker you can sleep-in an extra 30 minutes once a week, or watch the entire first season of 24, or you could curl up and listen to the top 500 songs of all time…
Do we really spend 60 hours a year waiting for pages to load?!
According to research conducted by the computer science department at Princeton, the average person visits 120 different web pages per day. A fairly fast internet connection loads the average page in 5 seconds, which adds up to 10 minutes a day. Multiply it out and you get 70 minutes a week, 5 hours a month, and eventually 2.5 days per year.
It’s tempting to assume that page loading times increase over time, as internet connections get faster and faster. What most people don’t realize is that websites are getting bigger at an even faster pace. According to a 2015 CNN article, “The average site is now 2.1 MB in size — two times larger than the average site from three years ago.”
So what’s with all the added bulk? In short, it’s due to the ads and complicated data tracking that comes along with them. We wrote a whole separate post explaining how cookies work, and how to protect yourself from the ones you don’t want.
Adblockers block the ads, and also the host of tracking events that have to happen before they can load. That makes your internet faster, potentially a lot faster. We compared loading times on Chrome with no adblocker, with Goodblock, or with Adblock Plus. Over the 100 different URLs and 10 different domains we tested, we found that pages loaded 60% faster with Goodblock. Multiply that by 60 hours of wait time and you have your free day!
Somes sites are 4 times faster with an adblocker, while others are no different
A 2015 New York Times study on mobile ads on the top 50 news sites found that, on average, “more than half of all the data came from ads.” A big publisher like The Daily Beast, for example, is working with many different ad networks and companies, simultaneously firing data back and forth before your article can load. The ads on their pages take around 70% of the total bandwidth.
The difference in page load speed with and without an adblocker basically depends on how many requests are blocked. For a site like Wikipedia where there are no ads, the difference is negligible. Sometimes the page load times are actually a fraction slower with an adblocker, due to the added computation that the adblocker introduces to figure out if something is an ad or not.
Generally, on slower sites with lots of ads and trackers (Mashable, for example), both Goodblock and Adblock Plus increased page load speeds. For others that are already fairly lightweight, page load times were faster with Goodblock but comparable to no adblocker with Adblock Plus. On sites that are already lightning fast (Google and Wikipedia), the adblockers had no effect.
Why doesn’t Adblock Plus significantly increase browsing speeds?
The added computation time of Adblock Plus is apparent when you look at loading times compared to a more lightweight adblocker. Due to their “acceptable ads” program, they are essentially an ad-filterer more than an ad-blocker. That means when you visit the New York Times, they have to survey all of the ads on the page, determine which ones they are going to allow and which they aren’t. Then they give the OK to the data tracking ad networks and everyone else that is involved with figuring out who you are and what ads to serve you. That all takes time, and bandwidth.
In a best case scenario, Adblock Plus runs their processes, blocks the ads, and delivers the page in less time than it would have taken without an adblocker. In a worst case, they run all of those computations but don’t end up blocking enough ads or tracking scripts to make up that time (take Wikipedia for example), in which case the page actually loads slower than if there was no adblocker at all.
This is why we think that “acceptable ads” is unacceptable. Adblockers developed 10 years ago as a reaction to increased loading times and ugly, pervasive banner ads. Allowing them, even selectively, is more of a step backwards than a potentially viable business model for the web. The future of advertising will come when we build a business model that doesn’t make sacrifices or shortcuts on the things that people have clearly and consistently called for: fast loading times, data privacy, and ads that don’t live within and disrupt the content they are trying to enjoy. That’s what we’re building with Goodblock, and we believe more strongly than ever that opt-in ads can fuel the web.
Don’t just take our word for it. Run the test yourself! Here’s how:
- Pick a list of websites (we encourage you to pick from a variety of different domains to see how much of a difference it makes on some sites vs. others)
- Download the page load time extension (it will allow you to measure the time it takes a page to load)
- Download Goodblock and Adblock Plus
- Disable both adblockers, open an incognito browsing window, and start visiting the URLs in your list. Record the time it takes for each page to load.
- Clear your browsing history, enable Adblock Plus in incognito mode and repeat the test. Then clear again, disable Adblock Plus, enable Goodblock in incognito mode, and repeat.
- Working in batches (to control for variability in internet speed over time) go through all of the URLs on your list.
- See the results! We’d love to see them so feel free to share!