Digital Ad Blocking: Will Escalating Usage Imperil Marketing, Monetization Efforts?
Thanks to ad-blocking technologies, many of the web’s most informed and devoted users have a very different internet experience than the ones marketers and publishers have built: no display or pre-roll video ads, no retargeted ads and in many cases no native ad content. Although ad blocking’s effects on advertising and publishing profits have been minimal, this could change quickly if blocker adoption becomes more widespread.
Reliable estimates of the number of internet users employing ad-blocking software vary from single digits up to 50%. Entirely reliable measures of ad-block users are almost exclusively proprietary.
While user base figures are hazy, it’s clear that ad-blocker adoption is growing. PageFair and Adobe estimate there were 198 million monthly active users of ad-blocking technologies worldwide as of June 2015.
Pre-roll video ads as well as display ads can be blocked, as can many types of native ads.
Marketers and publishers haven’t panicked—yet. Digital ads are still finding eyeballs. And publishers are seemingly resigned to dealing with yet another negative cost of doing business in the digital age.
The ad-blocking landscape could change relatively quickly, especially when it comes to mobile. The movements of mobile’s key players are being keenly watched. Although discouraging ad blocking is clearly in most of these companies’ interests, a crackdown risks driving away users. On the other hand, if ad blocking really takes off, large swaths of digital advertising would be unseen and therefore ineffective.
Developers of ad blockers and related software maintain that their products provide consumers with additional choices and intelligence about the content they are delivered.