Site Unseen: the problem of ad blocking and how to solve it

Ryan Dinger

Symptomatic of an Internet plagued by bad user experiences and questions of consumer privacy, ad blocking is a growing problem marketers and publishers will need to solve together.

Lindsey Crew began using Ad-Block to hide ads on websites two years ago, after friends I recommended the program to her. "I use it mostly to block the ads that play before or during videos on YouTube and other video streaming sites," says the 27-year-old administrative assistant from Delaware, and she's not alone.

According to a study conducted by PageFair and Adobe, the use of ad blockers in 2015 jumped 48 percent in the United States and 35 percent in Europe, compared to 2014. In June 2015, the number of people using ad blockers eclipsed 198 million worldwide.

Among the young especially, ad blocking is becoming a popular trend. A 2015 survey by Fractl and Moz found 63 percent of respondents ages 18 to 34 use ad blockers in some way. As a whole, ad blocking resulted in a total of $21.8 billion in lost revenue for publishers and marketers across the globe in 2015 — that figure is expected to nearly double in 2016, rising to $41.4 billion. The numbers arc at least eye opening, if not downright catastrophic. Ad blocking is a real trend with real consequences for both marketers and digital publishers. Consumers clearly sec trading their attention for online content as a sort of Faustian bargain, and arc beginning to use ad blockers as a loophole to escape the deal. So what's causing the trend, and what's the industry doing to alleviate the problem?

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