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Adblock Plus Reduces University's Network Traffic By 25 Percent 327

Mickeycaskill writes: Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada claims it cut 25% of its network traffic (40% of video traffic) by deploying Adblock Plus across its internal network. The study tested the ability of the Adblock Plus browser extension (PDF) in reducing IP traffic when installed in a large enterprise network environment, and found that huge amounts of data transfer were saved by blocking web-based advertisements and video trailers. The experiment was carried out over a period of six weeks. Disclaimer: the study was funded by Adblock Plus.
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Adblock Plus Reduces University's Network Traffic By 25 Percent

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  • I believe it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dark.nebulae ( 3950923 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @10:25AM (#50081605)

    Even though it's funded by adblock, I still believe it. May not be such high percentages, but it will certainly take a measurable chunk away.

    Individual sites cry foul because they cannot meet their advertising targets affecting their revenue, but from the point of view of the user that is active on the net they are bombarded by advertising. Stripping even 10% away can be a good thing...

    • Re:I believe it... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 10, 2015 @10:39AM (#50081705)

      We block advertising at the web proxy on our corporate network, and the savings is substantial, easily 25% when I look at the traffic reports/dashboards. Never mind protection from a malware vector, the improved browsing experience and network relief makes ad blocking a no brainer.

      • Re:I believe it... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @11:13AM (#50081955) Journal

        Gotta agree here, big-time. Even my own impromptu testing with AdBlock on/off shows that, as an example, roughly 20-30% of Facebook's packets carry advertisements to my browser. Sites like /. have the percentage down to something like 10% or so, personal and fringe sites maybe 5%, and at the other end, any ZDNet/CNET owned website blasts out soemthing like 25-35%. Don't ask what tomshardware.com and the gaming websites throw at you...

        While it's nothing more than an annoyance on my home machinery, I know that when I'm tethered, it makes a *huge* effing difference in data usage. I have it firmly installed on my mobile for just this reason.

        • Should say - I have it installed both on my laptop and my mobile.

          • I did have it installed on my phone (the standalone version, not a Firefox plugin) but it's a bit of a resource (RAM) hog if your phone isn't brand new.

        • Re:I believe it... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @11:23AM (#50082037)
          There are few things that bug me more than a page load delay waiting for an ad url to respond.
          • There are few things that bug me more than a page load delay waiting for an ad url to respond.

            or when the page formatting isn't set up right and when it renders it pops the browser view around. hm, I suppose the browser window could be modified to detect this stabilize keep the view ...

        • Re:I believe it... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @01:14PM (#50083081)

          Local news sites have been some of the worst for me. I found one site that told my browser to keep downloading some resource from an ad network (no idea what it was) as long as the window was open, I just happened to have network tools open to see it. By the time I finished reading the story and closed the page the browser had downloaded tens of MB.

        • Re:I believe it... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ZenDragon ( 1205104 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @01:16PM (#50083115)
          I can vouch for this as well. I monitor traffic from my linux router/firewall and have noticed significant decreases in over all bandwidth utilization with ad blockers enabled in the range of 25/35% depending on what I'm doing. Although I use Disconnect and/or uBlock ,as Ad Block Plus is a bit more of a resource hog. During my normal pointless browsing sessions, when Im not doing anything work related and just following click bait for mindless entertainment. I noticed a roughly 20% directly attributed to video ads. This is much less when I am doing something work or hobby related as I generally avoid the news sites and stick to forums and technical sites for information. That said, even some of my regular favorites *cough* Slashdot *cough* have started getting worse with the ads. Fortunately unlike most sites as a long time registered user, /. allows me to disable the ad's.

          For the record; I have NEVER in my life clicked an ad from a website that resulted in a purchase. I have only a handful of times, made purchases from email blasts when good deals were presented. Once from Tigerdirect, some from NewEgg during black friday deals, a couple times from REI, and once for a viagra, JUST KIDDING! :D I simply can not imagine how truly successful that style of advertising is successful when 99 out of 100 people I talk to about it say they hate it and avoid clicking that crap, on principle, because it is so annoying.
          • The thing about the email ads is that, with a lot of those, you sign up for those willingly, and they're from places you're interested in buying from. Newegg is a good example here: you probably got those emails because you bought stuff from Newegg, and then clicked on a box to be put on their mailing list so you could see their specials. It's entirely reasonable to think that you, both a former Newegg customer and a Slashdot user, meaning you're most likely a tech worker or the like, would be interested

      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
        How's that going to work once most everything is HTTPS?
        • LOL. As if web proxies have issues with https anymore.

      • by Demonoid-Penguin ( 1669014 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @11:47AM (#50082261) Homepage

        I banned Powerpoint presentations. Saves huge amounts of time, and server space. I don't have figures to support it, but I strongly believe it raises moral and stops a decline in general intelligence.

        • I banned Powerpoint presentations. Saves huge amounts of time, and server space. I don't have figures to support it, but I strongly believe it raises moral and stops a decline in general intelligence.

          (grin)

          Actually, the problem isn't Powerpoint or presentations. The problem is people who do not know how to create or give good presentations.

          Most boring presentations fall into the following categories:

          1. a presentation that you are forced to attend but that has no direct relevance to you, your job, etc.
          2. a presentation with too many details for the time slot. The Presenter speed reads the presentation
          3. a presentation where the presenter just reads the presentation. There are no explanations and no ex

          • I banned Powerpoint presentations. Saves huge amounts of time, and server space. I don't have figures to support it, but I strongly believe it raises moral and stops a decline in general intelligence.

            (grin)

            Actually, the problem isn't Powerpoint or presentations. The problem is people who do not know how to create or give good presentations.

            Agreed. It's the wasted time that bites. IMO the worst offenders spend too much time preparing it (which hasn't been a problem for years). Then there are those that create Powerpoint presentations which should have just been written documents - which they could have emailed me (no Powerpoint on my computers). In which case I would have just read it and the meeting would become redundant. As a general rule I won't go to presentations unless they've sent me something that explained the presentation first - th

          • by chihowa ( 366380 )

            Actually, the problem isn't Powerpoint or presentations. The problem is people who do not know how to create or give good presentations.

            The simplest rule of thumb is to minimize the number of words on the slides. It keeps the presenter and the audience from just reading the slides and forces the presenter to actually engage with the audience.

            If they removed the ability to insert text into Powerpoint slides, the workplace would instantly become a better place. (Really, people would just paste Word documents into slides or use more of those stupid clipart icons, but it would be better for one stupid meeting's worth.)

            • by xombo ( 628858 )

              The point isn't that slides are boring people, it's that slides create the impression that you're in the meeting to be entertained. If you can't pay attention and digest information from your field, try again.

              • Re:I believe it... (Score:4, Insightful)

                by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @02:59PM (#50083979)

                I never said anything about boring people. If you need to actually present something instead of just handing out a document, then you should focus on presenting and not just showing text in the most inefficient format possible and then proceeding to read it from the screen.

                In my field, that means showing the plots of your data instead of a wall of text describing your interpretation of them (and then reading that wall of text). If you're not interacting with your audience then you're not aware of how well you're delivering the information.

                The point of a presentation is to deliver information by speaking. The point of a presentation aid like Powerpoint is to help you show things that you can't say or emphasize things that you can say. If you're just a talking head reading your slides out loud for the presumably literate audience, then you're just wasting everybody's time.

                If you can't be bothered to efficiently use a medium, then proceed to blame that ineptitude on your audience, try again.

    • I am all for adds in websites... However many of them had became too intrusive, to take up so much bandwidth, or chew up too much cpu power to make it worth it.

      Adds should be relative to the content of the site/page, they should be clearly marked as adds, they in total should not take up more then 20% of the total sites resources. (Bandwidth, CPU, screen real estate... )

      I get it, a site offers service free of charge, so they use some space for advertising... I get that. However the goal is to get you to th

    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @10:59AM (#50081851) Journal

      Even though it's funded by adblock, I still believe it. May not be such high percentages, but it will certainly take a measurable chunk away.

      I'm surprised it's not more.

      Perhaps that's me, though. My browsing tends to be sites, such as Slashdot, where the meat I'm after is text, and the site's chaff is mainly icons, formatting-prettys, buttons, and other things that are static, image-light, and either susceptable to substantial compression or rendeded by the browser from small descriptions. Ads, meanwhile, tend to be image-rich, moving, and flashy, and designed for the add site's customer (who has litte concern for the viewer's costs) which chews up bandwidth.

      I'll presume it's so low either because others browse more bandwidth-intensive sites or site designers, in this age of broadband and optimized-only-for-appearance site design tools, are also not interested in keeping the bandwidth down (and the resulting performance up).

      Individual sites cry foul because they cannot meet their advertising targets affecting their revenue, but from the point of view of the user that is active on the net they are bombarded by advertising. Stripping even 10% away can be a good thing...

      For reducing viewer distraction, cutting bandwidth costs, and avoiding delays in web-page rendering.

      I NEED to suppress the ads when I'm at the ranch, with only slow dialup. A single image can make a page take minutes to load, when it could have been up in a second or less. So imagine one surrounded by banner ads, sidebar ads, embedded ads, footer ads, and so on. One animated ad can make the page take half an hour or more to load, and dynamic content can make it never finish at all, as the content changes outstrip the bandwidth.

      I even browse Slashdot with a configuration hack corresponding roughly to enabling firefox's long-lost "delay image loading" option. To do otherwise, even in classic mode and with "patron status or enough karma to disable ads", would be impractical.

      Without adblock plus AND noscript, (and maybe flashblock,) I'd be off the web when out of town.

      • I'm surprised it's not more.

        That was my first reaction too, then I remembered how much streaming has taken off. Globally, video streaming accounts for a bit more than 50% of all traffic. Excluding that means that at least 50% of non-video-streaming traffic is caused by ads.

        You'd also expect that video streaming was higher among a younger demographic like a University. If removing ads decreased the video traffic by 40% and 25% of total traffic was ads, the non-ad video streaming accounted for up to 62% of the total traffic at the Unive

    • Students were again instructed to mimic surfing to a designated basket of URLs (Table I) as they might perform research for a paper, casual surfing (news). They were required to spend at least 5 - 15 minutes on each site.

      Table 1: Basket of URLs Visited
      youtube.com
      bild.de
      gamestar.de
      cnn.com
      shopping.com
      bloomberg.com
      spiegel.de
      ebay.com
      nytimes.com
      mashable.com
      yahoo.com
      huffingtonpost.com
      digg.com
      washingtonpost.com
      reddit.com
      abcnews.go.com
      buzzfeed.com
      cbs.com
      yelp.com
      espn.com
      msn.com
      dailymail.co.uk
      skysports.com
      imgur.com
      imdb.com
      techcrunch.com
      alibaba.com
      reuters.com
      cnet.com
      thesun.co.uk
      stackoverflow.com
      bbc.com

      Phase II of the testing was conducted from March 15, 2015 to May 1, 2015 with 103 students participating. Phase II revealed some interesting results. For the purposes of analysis, we selected two computers with the most web traffic, one with Adblock Plus (Computer Y) and one without any ad-blocking technology (Computer S).

      That's an interesting test methodology and a highly questionable way to cherry pick analyze 2 weeks worth of data.

      • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

        Speaking of cherry picking, you excluded the sentence immediately following the list of sites:

        After reviewing the data, it became clear that a
        more rigorous test was required in order to fully
        evaluate the effectiveness of the browser extension.

        Then a little bit later they say

        the presence of different testing
        periods reduced the comparability of the with and
        without-Adblock Plus data sets. Asynchronous
        testing was therefore rejected in favour of
        synchronous testing.

        So they proposed a test, performed the test, an

    • by ne0n ( 884282 )
      Adblock on mobile should be an OEM feature. It saves at least 25% based on the few times I wiped/installed a new rom and forgot to Adblock.
      An easy experiment if you're masochistic is to enable your ad blocking proxy on cell data but not on wifi. Watch the stats. If you're on Android it's easy to see the data savings pile up.
    • Even though it's funded by adblock, I still believe it. May not be such high percentages, but it will certainly take a measurable chunk away.

      So you're saying that you believe that making fewer requests for less content results in less traffic? It's good that you believe that, now I will believe it also. I didn't want to be the only one.

  • Slashdot even had an ad that hijacked the browser and kept pulling the page back to the location of the ad on the page.
    • Was this a Flash ad? I save a lot of Internet traffic and CPU time on an Atom laptop by just setting Adobe Flash Player to "ask to activate". In my experience, most major ad networks currently aren't smart enough to sense that the Flash object has failed to load in order to replace it with an HTML5 video ad.

      • I save a lot of internet traffic by not installing flash at all & using Chrome only for flash required things (hate your tech decision, VMware!)

    • I use noscript and have no ads nor tracking while on slashdot...

    • haha. now THAT is clever

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Disclaimer: the study was funded by Adblock Plus.

    Gosh, they must be selling something. It's not as if they'd just give Adblock Plus away for free.

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @11:47AM (#50082251) Homepage
      They give it away for free, but it's ad supported.
    • by athmanb ( 100367 )
      FYI nothing is ever given away for free. Yes at first glance that's just a platitude, but it's a good idea to always think about this simple truth whenever you you evaluate something has has a face price of zero.
      • The whole gist of this article is that "free" websites are paid for by whoever is paying for transit. For a university it's probably thousands of dollars per month that they pay so that a student can look at usatoday for "free".

      • FYI nothing is ever given away for free.

        Yes at first glance that's just a platitude, but it's a good idea to always think about this simple truth whenever you you evaluate something has has a face price of zero.

        It's really not so simple as that. You can walk into many places at random to use their public restroom without making a purchase. They have given this service to you for free.

        At any coffeehouse you will also see that the napkins and creamer and sugar are free for the taking. They don't charge anything for them.

        You will also notice that wifi is free in many many places nowadays.

        Also you might notice that the city has given you permission for free to walk on their sidewalks and drive on their roads. They

    • But the more people use AdBlock, the more money they can charge for their "acceptable ads" whitelist.
  • I could see 25% if you handling mostly text/images. But with streaming services, I feel like it'd be a bit less. Though there are naturally going to be diminished traffic just due less content being transmitted.
    • I could see 25% if you handling mostly text/images. But with streaming services, I feel like it'd be a bit less.

      What tips the scale is the fact that a lot of sites stick video ads into text/image articles.

    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Ever 3rd (ca) thing I hear on Spotify is an ad for Spotify Premium
      Ever 5-6 minutes on DI, I get an ad
      On Sony's music-video service I got 2 ads per song (Often the same twice)
      On YouTube I get a video-ad per video, easily as long as the video I'm watching in case of short "funny" vids (I've clocked youtube video-ads up to 3 minutes long)
      On Comedy Central, watching Daily Show and Colbert Report I get (got?) 1-3 video-ads per ca 6-minute segment

      The notion that stripping this could result in 25% reduction seems.

  • by koan ( 80826 )

    This seems like a "no duh" thing that would have been done long ago.

  • Sounds plausible to me. Of course, I'd love to see some actual results from an unbiased study, but I don't doubt that by cutting out all the obnoxious and unnecessary ad traffic you'd reduce your network usage significantly.

    And that's even aside from the benefits of blocking a malicious vector.
  • To beomce AdBlock and AdBlock Edge because AdBlock whitelisted some ads by default and made it difficult to remove those whitelist entries?

    I heard something to that effect, any way. I can't remember when it happened but I remember a pretty big stink being raised about it and I swapped over to using Adblock Edge.

  • Irony is... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dredd13 ( 14750 ) <dredd@megacity.org> on Friday July 10, 2015 @10:58AM (#50081843) Homepage

    ... if you visit the first article linked in the story, while using AdBlock, you get a giant pop-up complaining about your doing so. :-)

  • When I can be bothered to install AdBlock on a machine, the responsiveness goes up significantly. I'm guessing most of the speed increase isn't in the downloading of resources, but the messy JavaScript that has to run in the browser to position everything.

    On a related note, I also remember hearing something about when the new CEO of JCPenney took over, his team noticed that almost 1/3 of all network traffic coming out of their HQ was YouTube. That's a LOT of cat videos. It's enough trying to balance control

  • I have Adblock+ installed on my browser, but I only use it on the most obnoxious of sites.

    There are 3 ways content sites can support themselves:
    1) With payments & subscriptions;
    2) With Ads outside of the content;
    3) With sponsored content that *is* an Ad

    I choose 2. I don't want to have to pay for every site & page that I click on, so the only other option a site has bar explicit ads, is with sponsored content. Content which attempts to look legitimate & impartial, but whose ultimate goal is to in

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @11:03AM (#50081887) Homepage
    Adblock plus has a coloured history of cherrypicking advertisers to quietly ignore. It was accused of accepting bribes from google to allow their ads. it has a whitelist of ads it considers tasteful enough to allow as well. Its also been fingered for slowing the browser experience for many users.

    try microblock [github.com] instead. And dont rely on just adblocking plugins to keep the network clean. null route known ad servers at home and work using a blacklist http://pgl.yoyo.org/adservers/ [yoyo.org]. the same process can be applied to rooted android phones as well, creating an ad-free experience that saves you money.
    • by Bengie ( 1121981 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @11:44AM (#50082227)

      Adblock plus has a coloured history of cherrypicking advertisers to quietly ignore

      They openly advertise this, pun intended. They do claim to have a minimum quality requirement for whitelisted companies, and companies need to pay to get on that white list. Breaking the terms by having questionable ads can remove the companies from the whitelist forcing them to pay all over again. I seems to be done in a way that would cost a company more to break the rules.

  • by dskoll ( 99328 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @11:05AM (#50081907) Homepage

    AdBlock Plus is awesome. Another really useful tool is Ghostery. It might not reduce bandwidth dramatically, but by blocking beacons, trackers, etc. it junks tons of JavaScript content and makes web pages render far more quickly. This really improves the browsing experience.

    • I can second the use of both of those. At first I was a little hesitant using ghostery and went around disabling stuff by hand on a per-site basis. Eventually I got tired of that and set it to block everything. Noticed no adverse effects, and it sped up page loading times significantly.
    • by pavon ( 30274 )

      I absolutely agree with using Ghostery (or something like it) for privacy reasons. That said Ghostery and AdBlock both use quite a bit of memory*, and IMHO slow things down as much as the ads they are blocking (apart from flash ads which FlashBlock or native click-to-play capability solves with much less overhead). Furthermore, I almost never see ads when running Ghostery, and conversely the EasyPrivacy filter list for AdBlock does much of the same thing that Ghostery does. So I would recommend trying them

  • Adblock Plus is old and busted, uBlock Origin [github.com] is the new hotness.

  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelgerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday July 10, 2015 @11:16AM (#50081985)

    See, this one guy said I should use his custom HOSTS file to block this stuff...
    /duck
    /run

  • God Damnit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @11:21AM (#50082017) Homepage

    The first rule of AdBlock Plus is that you do not talk about AdBlock Plus.

    THE SECOND RULE OF ADBLOCK PLUS IS THAT YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT ADBLOCK PLUS!

    caps filter bypass: lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

  • by waspleg ( 316038 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @01:14PM (#50083097) Journal

    I remember a related story a few months ago and I was using Adblock Edge (forked non-sell out version of ABP) and advocating it. People kept spamming my thread saying that uBlock was better. So I tried it out and am now a convert. It is in fact lighter weight and nearly transparent, but since they don't pay for placement you have to search for it 2x in the add-ons to find it.

    I primarily use Firefox, with uBlock (you can enable even stricter subsets of rules if you want, I did without issue), HTTPS Everywhere and Privacy Badger (the last 2 are from the EFF). I only see ads at work on other people's machines. There are other good add-ons for other stuff but this + wipe everything on browser close and private windows are nice.

    The only memory leaks seem to come from anything Flash based. So I'm forced to kill/restart FF every few days or it gets progressively slower and slower. I've noticed it's not really an issue without something running Flash.

  • I can't believe anyone actually uses that to try and guilt people into not blocking ads.

  • by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Friday July 10, 2015 @05:04PM (#50085067)
    One of the great reasons to use Adblock Plus or equivalent is that you can write custom scripts in addition to the stock lists that it uses. All mention the Kardashians, Kanye West, and their ilk has vanished from my screens. Life is good.

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