Ads, those annoying popups or the auto play video ads that are clueless to your volume level, let’s face it – nobody likes them. The appearance and aggressive posturing of the ads displays an alarming disconnect between advertisers, digital ad creators and their audience.
And the audience needn’t be geeks moonlighting as network administrators to pull of the task, it’s trivial for any user to install and suggest a browser extension like uBlock origin to their friends. Whether you choose to block ads at the perimeter of your network or just your browser, you display an awareness of something ad publishers seem to have wilfully ignored. Just what are we serving and at what cost?
Ad-blocking software usage keeps rising, and shows no signs of slowing down according to PageFair, a company that helps publishers regain revenue lost to the software. There were 615 million devices blocking ads worldwide by the end of 2016, 62% (308 million) of those were mobiles. Desktop ad blocker usage grew 17% year-on-year to 236 million.
94% of mobile ad blocking takes place in the Asia-Pacific, with India and Indonesia leading the pack. If you think this is because the current US administration sent back H1Bs for whom installing ad blockers is like baking brownies, think again. With over 220 million cell phone users, India alone has more than twice the total cell phones in the UAE, Switzerland, Sweden, South Korea, Taiwan and Canada.
Mobile adblock usage has expanded rapidly to 59% of smartphones in India.
Some of these trends aren’t isolated, but urged on by easier adoption trends. Alibaba’s UC browser for Android has built-in ad blocking. UC browser has a 25% market share in Asia and over 50% market share in India.
The highest usage of ad blockers is in Asia, accounting for 94% of mobile ad blocking globally. Fortunately, it appears publishers may have time to wake up, in 2016, PageFair reported that just 2.4 out of 1,000 smartphones in the US had in-app ad-blocking apps installed.
None of this is surprising or unprecedented, given that the levels of adoption in the US and EU may be slower, but it’s merely a matter of time.
A 2016 study by Juniper estimated that digital publishers stand to lose over $27 billion by 2020, as online publishers struggle to find effective strategies to counter ad blocking.
From the research paper, author Sam Barker added: “Adoption is being driven by consumer concerns over mobile data usage and privacy. They are also incentivised to adopt the technology in order to reduce page load times”.
So where do users go with their tracking and privacy concerns, unbearable mobile page load times and a general disdain for publisher and ad firm’s ideas for what passes as a normal web page. Are we to be mute spectators while behemoths like Facebook and Google figure out what washes as palatable? The issue is exigent, and there are billions of dollars in ad revenue at stake.