Ad blocking software is a challenge for marketers and publishers. What should be a distressing for all online ad players is the problem is ballooning.
The 2015 Ad Blocking Report by PageFair and Adobe found ad blocking software has cost almost $22 billion in lost ad revenue so far this year. And for publishers, ad blocking software stops more than just offending ads – it also blocks tracking cookies that offer first-party insights into website visitors.
Putting research behind the issue, and adding the PageFair and Adobe report found ad blocking is only a growing hurdle for marketers.
Globally, the number of people using the software grew by 41% year-over-year. In the U.S., 16% of the online population blocked ads in the second-quarter in 2015. Ad block usage in the U.S. surged 48% during the past year, increasing to 45 million monthly active users during Q2.
And, ad blocking on mobile, expected to be the fastest-growing ad channel, is starting to become a "thing." Currently Firefox and Chrome lead the mobile space with a 93% share of mobile ad blocking. The new iOS 9 will also allow for ad blockers.
Campbell Foster, director of product marketing at Adobe, told Marketing Dive the issue might even hit video, a key digital marketing tactic.
"If ad blocking goes mainstream in digital video, huge amounts of advertising won’t be seen, and will therefore be ineffective. This would then push ad dollars back to TV, reversing a trend," he said, adding, "Interestingly, the demographic group that uses ad blockers most frequently is one that’s highly coveted by advertisers: millennials and gen Z."
One aspect of ad blocking tech that might allow marketers to breathe more easily for now is that research by Genesis Media found while 24% of respondents used ad blocking tools on work and home computers, only 3% reported using the technology on smartphones. These results were mirrored by the PageFair and Adobe report that found mobile accounted for 38% of all web browsing in Q2 of this year, but only made up 1.6% of ad block traffic on the PageFair network during the same time period.
Pagefair wrote in a blog post regarding "the existential threat of ad blocking" that it has become a pressing concern among publishers around the world. "A concerted response is required, founded upon a renewed focus on user experience, and enabled by secure ad serving technology like PageFair’s. We hope this report will continue to help publishers, advertisers, consumer groups and technology vendors come together to define principles that support a sustainably free and open web," the post read.
Foster pointed out that marketers can take steps to make online ads more pleasant for the people to whom they are being served, saying consumers turn to ad blockers "for legitimate and understandable reasons. Intrusive ads such as pop-ups are frustrating to consumers, and ads can slow down page loading and disrupt the reading or viewing experience. As an industry, marketers and advertisers can improve the ad serving experience to make ads more relevant and engaging."
The PageFair and Adobe report, which also asked consumers why they might want to use ad blocking technology, echoed Foster's thoughts as to why.
- 50% reported misuse of personal information to target ads
- 41% reported an increase of quantity of ads, with 57% of 18-34 year olds citing increased ads as a reason to use ad blocking software
- 11% said they would never use ad blocking software, with that figure rising to 23% for 18-34 year olds
On how to mitigate the impact of ad blocking software, Foster offered, "Brands need to understand consumers more deeply, and use technology wisely so they can reach their target audience with the right message at the right time – without the annoyances and intrusiveness that encumber traditional desktop ad practices."