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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