Ad Blocking with a VPN – Can It Be Done?
Spend even five minutes on just about any website on the internet and you’ll be bombarded with ads to some degree. Even apps like Microsoft Outlook, Google Play, and Spotify have banner ads. With targeted ads getting more personal and accurate, users have turned to VPNs to block unwanted ads.
But can a VPN block unwanted advertising? Read on to find out how a VPN blocks ads and learn all the reasons you should consider blocking ads when using the internet.
Why Block Ads?
First and foremost, ads are often pesky and unwanted. They pause a YouTube video at the worst possible moments just to flog a product you may or may not be interested in.
Ads are also an example of poor internet security – especially if those ads always seem to feature products that relate to something that could have been picked up on by going through your data.
These ads are a privacy concern. Your data is being sold to advertisers who push targeted ads at you whenever you jump online. You can see why it would be a great idea to stop ads from playing during video streaming, prevent advertisers from targeting you, and get rid of annoying pop-up ads.
What is Ad Blocking?
Ad Blocking is the practice of using technology, typically an app or browser extension to prevent or remove targeted ads, advertising pop-ups, and any other kind of intrusive advertisement when browsing the internet.
This can extend to those targeted ads you see on the sidebars of websites. Ad blocking also refers to preventing YouTube ads from playing before and during a video. The process of ad blocking also typically involves preventing your data from being collected to generate targeted ads.
Can a VPN Block Ads?
While it is not necessarily what a VPN was designed to do, some VPN services can block ads. As a first line of defense, a VPN will help prevent your data from being collected and sold to third parties. This is achieved by encrypting your traffic. Since a VPN will not block ads by default, users must take advantage of a VPN service that offers a dedicated, built-in ad blocker.
A top-quality VPN service with a built-in ad blocker can be reasonably effective at blocking ads. However, our researchers determined that even the best VPNs in 2023 may not be 100% effective at blocking ads.
How to Block Ads with a VPN
Firstly, not just any VPN will do. You’ll likely need to avoid any of the best free VPNs because they will not have a built-in ad blocker. Secondly, you’ll need to do some research and find out which paid subscription VPN providers feature effective ad blockers.
Next, simply log into your chosen VPN and activate the ad blocker. This feature will differ between various providers and can even be referred to by a different name – for example, at Private Internet Access, the ad blocker is called PIA MACE. The button to activate an ad blocker will usually be found in the settings.
With the ad blocker successfully activated, users merely need to connect to a VPN server to enjoy an encrypted network with the addition of ad blocking. A great way to tell if an ad blocker is working is to load a known YouTube video that has ads.
Technical Bits – How a VPN Blocks Ad
Ad-blocking software essentially acts like a big filter. A website is made up of various elements are different types of ads will make up these elements too. The ad block software flags elements made up of intrusive ads by checking the domain names of all the elements on a webpage while it is loading.
Ad Blocker vs. VPN
A dedicated ad blocker is a specific ad filtering service that is designed specifically for preventing ads, rather than a VPN that offers ad blocking as an additional function. For most users, they’ll find ad-filtering services as downloadable browser extensions that can be added to browsers like Chrome or Edge. Some browsers also have built-in ad blockers like DuckDuckGo and Opera GX.
Ad Blocking Pros and Cons
You know why you should use an ad-blocking VPN but what advantages does doing so actually bring? Are there any drawbacks too? Our experts provide an honest evaluation of the pros and cons of using a VPN with an ad blocker.
- No interruptions – Quality ad blockers can stop video ads from playing at the beginning of a video and even stop ads from appearing in the middle of a video when it is most inconvenient.
- Not a target – Ad blockers can prevent targeted ads. We’re talking about those ads that border on creepy since they seem to know about things you were talking about, searching for, or listening to.
- It’s easy – It takes no effort to use an ad blocker or a VPN with a built-in ad blocker. Just press one button and you’re all set.
- Improved performance – Without a whole load of analytics and advertising tags to load, websites will load significantly faster when blocking ads.
- Not a real fan – Your favorite YouTube content creators or influencers rely on advertising revenue from users watching their videos. Since a VPN with an ad blocker can stop those videos, you will no longer be supporting your content creator.
- Can be detected – Some websites can detect the presence of an ad blocker and will prevent access to that page until it is turned off. You’ll often see this technology implemented on major news websites that heavily rely on advertising revenue
- Not 100% effective – Ad blockers and VPNs with built-in ad-blocking technology are not completely effective and may not always work. However, it is better than nothing.
Clearly, a quality premium VPN is a superior solution to block unwanted and potentially harmful ads whenever you are online. While a dedicated ad blocker can provide some effectiveness, a VPN using an ad blocker will also encrypt your traffic to additionally prevent the collection of personal data for advertising purposes.