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Mobile adblocking doubles in a year

News, 01 June 2016

GLOBAL: More than one fifth of smartphone users around the world are now blocking ads, almost twice the rate of a year ago, a new report has claimed.

At least 419m people are now blocking ads, 90% up in the course of 12 months, according to adblocking solutions provider PageFair. It added that this figure doesn't include content blocking apps, in-app adblockers, and opt-in browser adblockers.

Its Adblocking Goes Mobile report said that adblocking browsers – it identified 45 different ones available for download on iOS and Android – are the dominant method of mobile adblocking, used by 408m people.

"People are installing adblock for different reasons, many of which are indisputably valid," noted Sean Blanchfield, chief executive and co-founder of PageFair.

And Blanchfield warned that "this report tells a sobering story about the future viability of ad-funded media and journalism in developing economies".

The most widely used adblockers are those created by UC Browser, owned by Chinese internet giant Alibaba. Across all versions, these have more users than all other forms of adblocking combined, the report said.

Unsurprisingly, then, mobile adblocking is most prevalent in China, where – along with India, Indonesia, and Pakistan – such tools are primarily seen as a way of cutting down on data usage.

Overall, 36% of smartphone users in Asia Pacific were using an adblocking browsers the report revealed. And while the region contained 55% of global smartphone users, it accounted for 93% of adblocking browser usage.

"Adblocking now threatens all mobile channels," Blanchfield added. "Failure to address user concerns about mobile advertising in North America and Europe will lead to the same kind of widespread adblock usage that we are seeing in the Asia Pacific region."

Mobile adblocking is currently much less developed in North America and Europe, where, in March 2016, there were only 14m monthly active users of adblocking browsers.

But even if consumers in these regions don't have the same concerns about mobile data costs, many are already using desktop adblocking and it is a small step to transfer that activity to mobile.

Data sourced from PageFair; additional content by Warc staff