Feeds

Shhh... Opera holds the web's most valuable secret

Eric Schmidt's nightmare

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

You might think of the pipe between Opera and the user as a private channel. It's tempting to inject ads into that binary stream, behavioural or otherwise. Instead it's doing something subtly different. Opera is going to allow advertisers to compete with other ad networks for ordinary web pages. In January, Opera acquired AdMarvel, which it maintains with its own brand. AdMarvel has an unusual approach. It isn't a conventional ad network, but rather performs arbitrage on competing ad networks, to allow advertisers to find the most effective properties for their ad spend. AdMarvel will swap out a Google advert for a rival ad network.

How it works today: advertisers bid on an ad network for keywords.

This puts it on a collision course with some of the most powerful forces on the web. Ad networks hate arbitrage, even though it's a valuable market function that lowers the cost of advertising for ordinary people. Google all but bans it, periodically kicking out publishers who it suspects of the practice. Google (and other ad networks) would rather you thought of them as "auctions", which are ersatz substitutions for the pure market.

Opera introduces competition between ad networks for keywords

But we'll never know the true value of a keyword on a given day, at a given time, unless the ad networks are made more transparent. It's not a question of if, but when, the doors are blown off the keyword auctions. Whether it's Opera that pushes the plunger remains to be seen.

The value of your cache

Critics might point out that Opera's mobile web cache is restricted to certain markets - markets where mobile browsing is cheaper than landline internet access. When these mature, eventually landline will be cheaper, and the value of the cache will diminish. A similar argument is that once markets mature they buy "real" web browsers, such as the rich applications found on the iPhone and Android, and have less need for the mobile version.

There's merit to both arguments. But it assumes Opera will stand still. Today, Opera Mini offers users a blazing fast experience on the iPhone that makes the native built-in web browser - which is excellent - feel painful. The fundamental technology reality is that it is cheaper to render on the server. For many instances this will continue to be true, provided that Opera continues to innovate and add value. Even on the fastest wireless network you can find - try loading a page on each, and then hit the back button.

I was hugely impressed with the patience and quiet, understated confidence of Opera on my visit. It reminded me of visiting Google 10 years ago, but without the self-conscious goofiness. And so it may not be in keeping with Opera's heritage to pick a bloody fight with Google. Then again, it may succeed without having to. As we've seen with the EU browser ballot, Opera is a pretty tenacious fighter itself. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
Ofcom tackles complaint over Premier League footie TV rights
Virgin Media: UK fans pay the most for the fewest matches
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.