Ad block: in 2016, the use of ad blockers increased by 30%

In Q1 2017, PageFair published its annual report on the use of advertising blockers on computers and mobile devices. The startup is seeing an expansion of ad blockers in Asia, and explores more widely the motivations that push consumers to install these softwares.

Computers, tablets, smartphones … Nearly 615 million devices use an advertisements’ blocker as of today, 62% for mobile devices alone. This is one of the results of the state of the blocked web report, that has been published by PageFair, a startup that allows site owners to detect how many of their own users are using ad blockers. It has just released its state of the ad blocking market, with diverse categories and one including the famous ad blocker which, by the way, also sells its own advertising…

We learn in this survey that the worldwide use of ad blockers has increased by 30% in 2016 and that it is in Asia that the use of these anti-ads software is growing the strongest. In Indonesia, for example, ad block is used by two thirds of the population. Asian countries alone accounting for 94% of the use of ad blockers on smartphones. In contrast, in Europe and North America, the vast majority of devices that have installed an ad blocker are computers.

According to Sean Blanchfield, PageFair’s Managing Director interviewed by the New York Times, the trend could change: “There has been a massive increase in ad blockers in these countries, which no one had anticipated. In the West, I expect that we will undergo this same trend in the near future” he said.

Who is using ad blockers?

The report published by PageFair gives us an opportunity to better identify who is using ad blockers, and what are their motivations. Since the previous startup’s study published in 2016, the use of ad blockers has been adopted by older people, and is now approved by any type of social groups.

In addition, PageFair states that ad blockers software’s users are mostly graduates (45% of them hold a bachelor’s degree). To them, ad blocking is comparable to an antivirus or a firewall, in other words they conceive it as a tool that they will keep on their device for a long time. The key word that drives them to resort to this software: security.

Indeed, these users find not only some advertisements annoying and intrusive, they also fear for their security on the Internet. In particular, they blame these ads for invading their privacy, interrupting their user experience and slowing down the loading time of pages with videos (which sometimes consume large amounts of data). Early users, in particular, put safety concerns at the top of their minds to explain why they had turned to ad blocks and other similar devices.

The report concludes that, rather than being due to a massive rejection of Internet advertising, the ad blockers’ installation by these users would be more specifically linked to the way some sites design their advertising space. It would mainly be due to the intrusive formats, interrupting the user, that would push him to download a blocker of ads. Non-intrusive formats seem to be much better accepted: for example, 52% of the users surveyed were in favor of static banners.

And the presence of original contents, with high value added or that web surfers cannot find on other websites does not even encourage them to disable ad blocks. According to the study’s figures, 74% of American users prefer to leave the website, even if that means not accessing the page they are truly interested in.

74% of users prefer to leave websites that request them to disable their ad blocker.

On the critics’ side of the ad blocking technology, the main reproach against those softwares lies in the fact that web users would break a tacit contract, preventing the display of advertising spaces from which websites derive their revenues. The shortfall is actually significant since advertising on some websites can amount to billions of dollars each year, says The Next Web.

Finally and as reported in June 2016, Paul Verna, an analyst at the eMarketer research firm, said in a press release that this important use of ad blockers mainly questions the way advertising is designed for the web user: “The best way for the industry to tackle the problem is to offer compelling advertising experiences that users will not want to block.”

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