Ad Blocking

Advertisers seek the path of least resistance. This article is an extract from our 2018 Trends Report.

What is it about?

Ad blocking software modifies or removes display ads on computers, tablets, or mobile phones. The programs are downloaded by users or, in some cases, pre-installed on operating systems (Apple iOS) or in browsers (Google Chrome).

Pre-installation is an accelerating trend, leading to rapid growth worldwide. A recent report by PageFair pegs ad-block use at 11% of the world’s online population. That’s more than 600 million devices, 62% of them mobile. In 2016 alone, blockers were installed on 140 million of that 600 million. The incidence of blocked advertising in Canada is high, according to recent studies: between 17% and 25%.

PageFair found that users mainly wanted to reduce interruptions (29%) and protect against viruses and malware (30%). The second point is no surprise since malvertising (malware spread through online ads) is in full growth mode. Personal data and privacy count as concerns too, but are less troubling than slow browsing speeds and the glut of online ads.

Why is it important to out industries?

It’s hard to judge how much revenue is lost to ad blockers. Ovum’s figures range from US$16 billion to US$78 billion by 2020. What can’t be predicted are the strategies media companies will develop to counter the phenomenon. In Canada, the problem has hit entertainment content, sports, and video games especially hard as reveals a study by IAB Canada and comScore.

The study also found that 78% of Canadians prefer free online content with ads over paid options – which means advertising retains its allure for monetization. What’s needed is a better alignment with consumer preferences: less disruption and shorter formats for both digital and traditional media. FOX, for example, now offers 6-second advertising spots during football and baseball – a short format that is also working for Google on YouTube.

Interesting facts

One type of ad stands out as the most hated on both PC and mobile: the pop-up! Get all the details here about a recent North American and European survey that gave 25,000 online users a chance to vent.

Go deeper

Keep up with the latest in research at the Turner AdLab, whose mission is to “create and deliver an enhanced, less disruptive advertising experience for consumers.”

Worth following

In 2016, media and advertising organizations (including Google, IAB, GroupM, Procter & Gamble, and The Washington Post) formed the Coalition for Better Ads. It aims to develop products and ad experiences that counter the upsurge in blocking. The Coalition published its Better Ad Standards in June 2017, a rundown of practices most likely to make consumers block advertisements. Google has also developed its own tool, the Ad Experience Report, which lets platforms analyze the advertising experience offered on their sites.

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