How we test ad blockers
We use online tools to analyze ad blockers and check if they can block ads on some specific popular websites and platforms. We evaluate the ad blocking on various streaming services, social media platforms, messaging and gaming apps, and others.
Then we differentiate ad blockers into system-wide ad blockers, which can block ads on other system applications, and browser extensions (including browser built-in ad blockers and standalone extensions that you can add to your browser), which can block ads only on the web level.
Our testing process
We put these providers through several testing steps to get the most comprehensive results on how successful ad blockers are with blocking online threats and trackers.
Depending on the article's intent, we use different browsers and devices to perform our in-house testing processes. However, to get an overview and the baseline of the software performance, we run all the ad blockers through the same tests using the same device.
To test the ad blocker apps, we use different devices with different OS – we test these tools on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices based on the article's intent.
Our tests are mainly performed using the Chrome browser to test the ad blocker browser extensions. However, depending on the article's intent, we also check the compatibility with other browsers.
We also run tests with third-party platforms – Can You Block It, AdBlock Tester, and Cover Your Tracks. The results received from those platforms are then compared to what the ad blocker providers state to be able to block. This way, we get a comprehensive look at what the ad blocker can achieve.
Following this, we perform our in-house tests, testing the ad blockers’ capabilities. We use different devices, apps, and websites to note how successfully the tools blocked malicious ads and trackers. In addition, we measure the user experience with the ad blockers – whether they are easy to set up, beginner-friendly, or require previous knowledge to manage and successfully set up these tools.
Can You Block It
We perform the Extreme test on Can You Block It – the website is loaded with many different categories of ads:
- Pop-Under Ads
- Interstitial Ads (pop-ups before page loads)
- Push Notification Requests
- Page Push Ads
- Video ads
- Banner Ads
- Native Banner Ads (pretends to be a part of the website content)
- Direct Link Ads
Then we note what type of ads were successfully blocked by the provider we’ve tested.
We use AdBlock Tester, which works similarly to Can You Block It, but additionally, it provides a score (with the maximum being 100). This test allows us to evaluate the ad blocker more accurately as we get a clear quantitative result. For an excellent result, the goal for the ad blocker is to get 85 and more points.
Cover Your Tracks
Cover Your Tracks focuses on web trackers and has three criteria:
- Blocking tracking ads
- Blocking invisible trackers
- Protecting from fingerprinting (a unique fingerprint means the user is easily identifiable to advertisers).
For the ad blocker to be categorized as being effective, it must meet the first two criteria (to block tracking ads and invisible trackers).