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Ad-blocking makes mobile news sites more than 3 seconds faster: report

Mobile users of ad-heavy news sites are seeing pages load more than three seconds faster with ad-blocking technology turned on, presenting a significant dilemma for marketers interested in delivering a strong user experience yet who rely on advertising for revenue, according to new data from Catchpoint Systems. 

In a comparison of performance across mobile site for financial services, ecommerce, travel and news companies with and without ad-blocking capabilities turned on, the data showed that enabling ad-blocking made Web pages load faster in all cases. The data suggests marketers are going to have to choose between user experience ? which can help drive conversions ? and advertising on mobile. 

?The most important takeaway is that ad blocking is having a significant positive impact on mobile site performance ? speed," said Dritan Suljoti, co-founder of Catchpoint Systems.

?Mobile site users tend to value fast, convenient experiences above all else,? he said. 

?For this reason, the availability of ad-blocking services can present significant challenges to both marketers, who want maximum viewability for their ads, as well as sites that rely heavily on ad-driven revenue.?

Marketers? dilemma
Catchpoint?s research shows that bank sites saw a 7 percent decrease in Web page load times with ad-blocking technology turned on, ecommerce sites a 23 percent decrease, news sites a 43 percent decrease and travel sites a 20 percent decrease. 

Web page load times are defined as the time it takes for enough page elements to load for an end-user to begin interacting with a page. Reduced Web page load times means faster speed for end-users. 

For all the verticals, the total number of downloaded bytes decreased, demonstrating that ad-blocking is restricting content. 

The research presents a dilemma for marketers. 

Ad-blocking clearly presents a threat to marketers? ability to derive revenue from selling advertising on their mobile sites because if users are not seeing the ads, advertisers are not going to pay. 

On the other hand, marketers understand that presenting a higher-quality user experience via faster-loading pages can help increase conversions for these sites. Speed is especially important on mobile as users are often on-the-go and looking for easily accessible snippets of information. 

Significant implications
Catchpoint predicts that ad-blocking technology will have major implications for how news is consumed and will exert significant pressure on companies, particularly news sites, to keep ad loads in check. 

The news comes at a time when ad-blocking, which had previously mainly been available on desktop, is ramping up on mobile. Apple?s iOS 9, which is being released this month, makes ad-blocking a core feature and is just one of several new ways consumers can block mobile ads. 

The potential impact of ad-blocking on mobile is alarming to an industry that is quickly growing but has faced a number of struggles, such as costs that are lower than on desktop and the need for unique experiences that are tailored for the mobile user. 

?The rise of ad blocking is the result of years of negligence on the part of marketers to take the end user experience into consideration,? Mr. Suljoti said. 

?Online ads have become so intrusive ? particularly on mobile, where user patience is lower and the impact that ads have on performance is especially bad ? that blocking them entirely is the only recourse left for the consumer,? he said. ?Therefore, what?s needed is a fundamental shift in the way marketers deliver their ads in order to reach their audience. 
?A balance has to be found in order to get consumers? eyes on the ads while not annoying them, so it?s up the marketers to find a way to deliver their product more efficiently. I?m not sure what those strategies will look like yet, but necessity is the mother of invention, and the need for innovation is clearly extremely high right now.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York