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Ad formats drive ad blocking

News, 03 February 2017
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GLOBAL: Adblocking usage in the US, at 18% of internet users, is significantly higher than the global average of 11%, according to a new report, which says usage is driven by specific problems with the delivery of online advertising and is not a rejection of digital advertising itself.

For its 2017 Adblock Report, PageFair, a provider of adblock solutions to publishers, surveyed 4,626 adblock software users in the US, and found the demographic profile has broadened beyond young males to become more mainstream.

It remains the case, however, that men are 34% more likely than women to use adblock software on desktop and laptop computers, it said. And suburban and urban internet users are 17% more likely to use desktop adblock software than those in rural areas.

Further, US adblock users are 1.5 times as likely to have a bachelor's degree as the average American adult, increasing to three times as likely among 18-24 year olds – indicating that campuses are "a major vector for adblock adoption".

The study found many motivations for using such software, but virus/malware concerns (30%) and interruptive ad formats (29%) were the leading reasons given. Others included speed (16%), too many ads (14%), privacy (6%) and poor frequency capping (4%).

But the dislike of interruptive ad formats – non-skippable video ads (31%) and auto-play audio ads (23%) in particular – did not prevent 77% of respondents indicating that they found some ad formats acceptable.

Static banners ads were preferred by 52% and skippable video ads by 35%; people were broadly neutral on native ads.

While some publishers have erected an "adblock wall", denying access to adblock users unless they disable their adblocker, the report said this approach was largely ineffective: three quarters of users encountering such a wall simply leave the site.

More generally, the report suggested that adblock software is at a tipping point between desktop and mobile.

Nearly all mobile adblock usage is currently in Asia-Pacific, partly because of partnerships between adblocking browsers and device manufacturers and distributors, but that could quickly change.

"The first mobile adblock solution to gain traction in North America or Europe will connect with a large, latent audience of former desktop adblock users," the report warned.

Data sourced from PageFair; additional content by Warc staff

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