Campaign UK

Q Is ad-blocking a declining problem for mobile marketers?

Growth of ad-blocker adoption has slowed, but it may not be time to celebrate just yet, Emily Tan writes


The debate around ad-blocking seems to have mellowed since it rocked Mobile World Congress a year ago, when Three talked about blocking ads on a network level. Indeed, emarketer has recently scaled back its estimates for US adoption of ad-blockers this year, from 86 million to 75.1 million people – or 27.5% of internet users.

Growth of ad-blockers in the UK has likewise slowed from 50.2% in 2016 to a projected 34.5% in 2017. But that still equates to 27% of internet users or 14.7 million people.

So while industry experts may concede the problem is less pronounced, they are not complacent about ad-blocking going away.

In the US, ad-blocking is far more common among younger people. This year, 41.1% of millennial­s will use ad-blockers, versus 26.9% of Generation X and 13.9% of baby boomers.

Shelleen Shum, senior forecastin­g analyst at emarketer, believes publishers and marketers need to continue to keep a close eye on ad-blocking.

Moreover, slowing ad-blocker growth isn’t due to a weaker desire to use them on the part of the consumer. Instead, Shum says, it is more likely to be down to the shift towards mobile usage – where ad-blocking is less prevalent – and some publishers’ refusal to give access to users who have ad-blockers switched on.

Ad-blocking on mobile – especially in-app – remains ineffectiv­e. “If a solution for ad-blocking on mobile web and app is developed, it is possible that ad-blocking rates will pick up again,” Shum adds.

Chaya Soggot, founder and chief executive of advertisin­g technology company Woobi, agrees that it is too early to celebrate the falling rate of ad-blocker adoption.

“What we currently see are sites that limit the access of ad-blocker users,” she says. “This is a dangerous approach as these sites suffer a significan­t decrease in their traffic, losing both income and exposure of millennial­s and other tech-savvy users.”

However, some are optimistic that the industry’s growing awareness of the factors that drive ad-blocking use is finally bearing fruit.

“To slow the increase of ad-blocker usage, publishers have worked hard to improve user experience,” Paul Astbury, business developmen­t director for publisher solutions at Integral Ad Science, explains. “A continued industry focus on improving ad quality and viewabilit­y should help to level out ad-blocker usage over the next few years.”

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