Cliqz Developers Revolutionize Ad Blocker Architecture

A server-based approach drastically reduces start time and memory usage. A new update mechanism significantly lowers data usage.

Björn GreifEditor

The ad blocker developed by Cliqz is not only the fastest on the market, but also works highly efficiently – which is especially beneficial for mobile devices. A revolutionary architecture guarantees a very short start time as well as drastically reduced memory usage and data consumption. Users of Cliqz and Ghostery browsers already benefit from the innovative ad blocker technology.

Traditionally, an ad blocker needs to download rules from a server and then process them in the browser to transform them into a ‘blocking engine’ capable of efficiently detecting and blocking ads. That’s what all other popular ad blockers do. The new approach of the Cliqz developers: The engine is prebuilt on the server. The work needed to transform the rules into an efficient blocking engine is done on the server and no longer on the client device. This saves time and resources: The ad blocker is ready for use much faster, and CPU as well as memory usage are reduced. On mobile devices, this has a positive impact on performance and battery life.

Comparison of start time in ms and memory usage in MB with the traditional parsing approach and the new prebuilt approach by Cliqz.
Comparison of start time in ms and memory usage in MB with the traditional parsing approach and the new prebuilt approach by Cliqz.

Data Usage Is Reduced by More Than 100x

Our ad blocker also breaks new ground when it comes to filter list updates: Instead of always downloading the complete filter lists after an update, only the entries that have actually changed are updated. For example, updating the EasyList filter list results in a download volume of approximately 1.9 megabytes per year and user. With the traditional update method, approximately 244 megabytes of data are generated – 128 times more!

Currently, our developers are working on further innovations that will make the ad blocker even more efficient. A new compression method will bring extra 20% memory usage reduction. Rémi Berson from our ad blocker team presented the latest improvements at the Ad Blocker Developer Summit in Amsterdam last week. His presentation is available on GitHub, as is the source code of the JavaScript-based ad blocker library by Cliqz.

New Ideas for a Better Internet

With the server-based approach, Cliqz revolutionizes the ad blocker architecture. This shows that it’s always worthwhile to question established structures and procedures and to develop innovative approaches from which others can benefit as well. The open source ad blocker architecture provided by Cliqz is also used by Brave, for example.

Other Cliqz innovations are Human Web, quick-search within the browser, and the combination of blocklist-based and heuristic anti-tracking.