Adblocking goes mainstream

10 September 2014

COLOGNE: Nearly 5% of all internet users now employ adblocking software, according to a new report which suggests it has become mainstream following a surge in installations over the past 12 months.

Adblocking Goes Mainstream, a joint study from PageFair, a provider of adblock solutions to publishers, and Adobe, said the number of people who utilised this software had risen 69% in the year to June to hit a total of 144m active users.

Usage reached a peak among 18-29 year olds in the US, 41% of whom claimed to use adblock software. Overall more than one quarter of US users (27.6%) said they employed adblock software when browsing.

Similarly high figures were seen in Poland, Sweden, Denmark and Greece, where an average 24% of the online population had used adblocking software in the second quarter of 2014.

While adblocking is currently most evident in western markets, other countries are catching up – PageFair pointed to Japan and China as examples where adblock usage is growing fast.

These users are not totally opposed to advertising, however, often being more concerned with specific formats – the study found they were particularly ill-disposed towards ads that intruded on their ability to consume intended content. But over 60% of adblockers were at least partially receptive to viewing text, still-images and skippable pre-roll ads.

Speaking to the Guardian, PageFair CEO Sean Blanchfield described adblocking software as "the Napster of the advertising industry". This rejection of "aggressive advertising" meant, he said, that "the only sustainable response is to listen to these users and offer a cleaner advertising experience."

He highlighted the finding that the use of adblocking was especially widespread among millennials. "You can basically see a large cohort of adblockers growing up – as adblockers. And this isn't good news for the advertising industry, or publishers," he observed.

"The thing about advertising is that the end user isn't part of that contract; the contract is between the publisher and the advertiser," he added. "And the end user who installs Adblock really isn't mindful of the fact that they're impacting the revenue of the publisher."

PageFair itself allows publishers to display acceptable ads to their adblock visitors and claims to have an opt-out rate of less than 1% and a CTR comparable with regular advertising.

Data sourced from Pagefair, The Guardian; additional content by Warc staff