Forecast: US ad blocking down but could still exceed one quarter of internet users

Dive Brief:

  • EMarketer lowered its 2017 growth forecast on ad blocking from 86 million U.S. ad blocking users to 75.1 million. The adjusted rate still means 27.5% of all U.S. internet users will utilize some form of ad blocking software this year.
  • Adoption among mobile users is low at less than 8%, according to eMarketer. Mobile ad block technology is often seen not being as effective as desktop versions. 
  • Ad block adoption is most prevalent among younger demographics, with millennials reaching 41.1% compared to Gen X at 26.9% and baby boomers at 13.9%. Millennials are more likely to have ad blocking enabled because they are more tech savvy than older internet users, more willing to adopt new technology and often spend more time on the internet browsing and watching videos, per eMarketer.

Dive Insight:

Ad block technology hasn’t dominated headlines as much lately, but the new forecast shows it's still a widespread — and growing — problem that affects all players in the digital marketing ecosystem. Although eMarketer's revisions look positive at face value, digging into the details takes some of the shine off.

Even with the lowered rates, more than one-quarter of U.S. internet users will have adopted ad block software this year; more alarmingly for marketers, the most significant adoption rates are among the youngest age groups — often the demographics brands are most eager to reach. 

More digital natives are growing up with ad block tech in place and are unlikely to adjust well to any sort of pivot back to online display advertising, which is often seen as an unwanted intrusion. The challenge for marketers and publishers alike is finding ways to reach online audiences that don’t involve traditional ad formats. 

Newer formats like native provide potential solutions, although publishers have struggled to implement and measure sponsored posts and branded content for their advertising partners.  

Publishers, who are arguably hit the hardest by ad blocking technology, losing all potential revenue from ads blocked, have been taking a harder stance against ad blocking visitors. The Atlantic, for example, has tried walling off anyone with the technology enabled unless they agree to either shut their blocker down or pony up for a paid subscription. As more publishers adopt harder stances against ad block users, adoption might continue to slow. 

Filed Under: Trends