Ad Blocking Update for 2017

By Sortable |
May 17, 2017
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Topics: ad blocker, News

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Ad Ops & Digital Publishing News - Sortable

Back in 2015, we walked through a State of the Ad Blocking Nation, an article describing ad blocking, its adoption, and how it might affect businesses that rely on ads for revenue.

It’s now 2017, and the landscape for ad blocking is largely different that what we described two years ago. We’re going to take a look at some updated statistics and news to see what has changed.

Pagefair now publishes an adblock report every year, summarizing ad blocking trends. Their 2017 report (drawn from late 2016 data) highlighted these key takeaways:

  1. 30% year-over-year growth in use of ad blockers worldwide
  2. 11% of the world’s internet population utilizes ad blocking
  3. 62% of devices using ad blockers are mobile
  4. Interruptive ad formats and security concerns are the primary drivers behind adblocking adoption

Ads have gotten bad enough from the user’s perspective that browsers, like Opera or Brave, are now coming with built-in ad blocking functionality (and even Google’s Chrome is rumoured to follow suit).

The ongoing growth has prompted one-upping between users, vendors, and websites that rely on advertising to generate income: adblock v. anti-adblock v. anti-anti-adblock. The most notable example is the case of Facebook battling Adblock Plus to serve ads to its user base. In a back and forth that spanned only hours, Adblock Plus and Facebook traded workarounds for each other’s technology — the end result being that Facebook structured its ads so that the displaying of ads are “blended” into the content of the web page, and blocking those would actively break the rendering of Facebook itself.

Aside: Adblock Plus’ owner Eyeo has initiated their acceptable ads program, an effort to monetize the service through large entities paying to be whitelisted from ad blocking. Eyeo has even formed a committee to figure out what types of ads are acceptable. This has resulted in some friction with the ad tech community and even resulted in Eyeo representatives being blocked from attending the IAB Leadership conference in 2016.

Even academics are chiming in, with studies being conducted to assess the consequences of ad blocking arms races. The team from Princeton implemented current ad blocking techniques and even developed their own ad blocking methods to determine what the eventual end-game might be for ad blocking.

Most publishers do not have the time and resources required to battle ad blocking techniques like Facebook can, and therefore suffer the most from ad blocking techniques. It remains that the best anti-adblock policy is one that concentrates on high-quality, non-intrusive ads to ensure that site visitors prevents ad blockers from being enabled in the first place.

In short, ad blocking is a still growing issue for the digital advertising industry. While ads remain the primary way by which online properties sustain business, this is at odds with people’s desire to surf the web ad-free — the best technique is to serve ads that visitors do not want to block, preserving the ad-based revenue model that is so central to internet publishing.


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