March 27, 2017

Adblocker Report: What’s the Future?

It’s a huge problem and many in the industry think that it’s immoral, illegal, anti free speech and is killing journalism. Some also point to one positive that was spawned by adblocking, making sites leaner and more enjoyable to the consumer. Adblocking has forced publishers and advertisers, however unfairly, to own up to their own faults.

This report is designed to bring perspective to the rise of adblockers and how they are impacting the internet ecosystem and what the future is likely to bring.

Some in the industry are exasperated that we continue to let adblockers have such a negative impact on publishing and advertising.

“The reason it has to happen is just like video didn’t kill the radio star and just like Netflix hasn’t killed live TV and just like Napster never killed music, adblocking will not be allowed to kill journalism,” stated Anna Hickey, Managing Director Maxus UK at the 2016 Shift conference. “Journalism is too important to us culturally and economically and we all have our part to play in making sure that it survives.”

“Why did we lose track of user experience?” asks IAB President Randall Rothenberg. “For much of the past decade, the digital ad industry, aided and abetted by venture capitalists with no long-term stake in the viability of media and marketing businesses, have been in a headlong rush to subvert industry standards, hoping they can own the single business model that can lock in proprietary advantage and lock out competitors in the $600 billion global ad industry.”

As Much as 40% of Ads Are Blocked

“Where is it heading and will it actually be more of a storm in a teacup when we look back on this or is it the beginning of a major reform of the advertising ecosystem?” asked Rufus Olins, CEO at Newsworks, a UK based marketing body for national newspapers. “Adblocking is a key topic for this industry and it continues to develop as an issue not just in the UK but around the world.”

A March 2016 IAB/YouGov study on the state of ad blocking in the U.K. shows that 22% of British adults currently use adblocking software, up from 18% in their Oct. 2015 study. According to “The Cost of Ad Blocking” 2015 report by PageFair and Adobe (PDF), 16% of the US online population blocked ads during Q2 2015, which is just slightly less than in the UK, and at this point in August 2016 is likely the same or higher than the UK.

An IAB study in 2014 paints a much grimmer picture, concluding that over a third of US users, and 41% of Millennials, had installed ad-blocking software. The main reason people was a concern that advertising could infect their computers or smartphones with viruses. However, more than two-thirds also believed that advertising slowed interrupted their online experience and slowed them down.

40% THINK They’re Using an Ad Blocker, 26% Actually Are

According to a July 2016 IAB report, “Ad Blocking: Who Blocks Ads, Why and How to Win Them Back” (PDF), the actual number of consumers blocking ads is 26%. Many people think they are using adblock software when they are simply blocking popups.

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This recent IAB report says that most adblock users are men 18-34 years old and that these same men make up the 15% of smart phone users that block ads.

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Of consumers not blocking ads, 20% are past adblockers that were motivated by publishers who are blocking their content from them. The study also found that 17% of users not blocking ads may do so in the future.

So, why do people block ads? The study concluded the obvious, that consumers using ad blockers, want uninterrupted, quick browsing and a streamlined user experience. There is a perception that sites are easier to navigate without ads. This is also true for mobile phone users with adblockers.

The most annoying ads; Ads that block content, long video ads before short videos, ads that follow down the page as the user scrolls and auto-start ads. The main difference between people who use adblockers and those that don’t is that they are simply less tolerant of ads.