Five stats that sum up the rise of ad blocking

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Love them or loathe them, ad blockers aren’t going anywhere soon, forcing digital publishers to sit down and have a serious rethink about their marketing strategies.

According to PageFair, which works with publishers to minimise the impact of ad blocking, web users are taking to blocking ads in their hundreds of millions.

To mark the publication of our first Zoom In report, Ad blockers: The lay of the land, we present five stats that we think best tell the story of ad blocking, but first, here’s one for free: according to the UK Association of Online Publishers, 65% of publishers see ad blocking as a threat to the publishing business model.

But is it all doom and gloom? Let’s see what else the stats have to say.

$41.4bn: the estimated global cost of ad blocking this year (PageFair, 2015)

Let’s get the bad news out the way first. Ad blocking is expensive for publishers, who need the ads to pay for the content they’re serving us, (often) absolutely free of charge.

According to PageFair, blocking those revenue-bringing ads will deprive the industry of $41.4bn by the end of this year. Ouch.

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100m: number of Adblock Plus active users (Adblock Plus, 2016)

Perhaps the best known of the ad blocking brigade (and the biggest stone in the shoe of German publishing group Axel Springer, which has taken them to court), Cologne-based Adblock Plus was pleased to announce in May that it had more than 100 million active users, which it counts as active installations of its ad blocking platform.

That’s 100 million fewer devices publishers can serve their ads to. Food for thought.

22% of the world’s smartphone users are now using ad blockers (PageFair, 2016)

If the ad blocking battle began on desktop, the war will be in the realm of mobile.

A combination of easier access to ad blocking software on smartphones, and the greater availability of smartphones in emerging markets is driving this – 36% of smartphone users in Asia Pacific are blocking ads.

And apps aren’t beyond the reach of ad blockers anymore, as it’s now also possible to block in-app ads.

ad blocking on mobile detail

$9.50: cost of loading the ads on Boston.com every day for a month (New York Times, 2015)

Many people block ads because they can be annoying. Others may be concerned about the malware they can carry. But another big reason is their loading times, and drain on mobile data – data that we’re paying for.

Last autumn the New York Times set out to discover just how much loading the ads on a range of news websites would cost on the average American mobile data plan over the course of a month.

It found that Boston.com was the most data-hungry, costing just shy of $10 over the 30 days.

20% of people in the UK who have downloaded an ad blocker no longer use it (IAB, 2016)

Let’s end on a sweeter note for publishers. While ad blocker use is increasing rapidly in emerging markets, this stat suggests that the upward trend may start to slow in the UK.

IAB says the primary reason for users abandoning their ad blockers is switching to a new device, but the second most cited reason was a lack of access to content the users wanted – so perhaps the publishers’ strategy of walling off content until the user turns off their ad blocker is working.

Download your free copy of the Zoom In report Ad blocking: The lay of the land, which features exclusive insights from experts in digital media, publishing and technology, as well as the latest stats to bring you a well-rounded, easily digestible analysis of the ad blocking situation as it stands.

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