The world of online advertising can be a big and messy place. There'll be timely and relevant ads just like there'll be disruptive and irrelevant ads. Some ads might even be malicious, trying to scare you into doing things you shouldn't (such as installing a program to get rid of a computer virus you don't have).
Every year, new sophisticated tools are released to make online advertising more effective and efficient. But the positive effects of this are slowly being chipped away. People are beginning to discover tools like adblock.
Adblock software is a free plugin for your desktop and mobile browser. It blocks YouTube, Google, Facebook, and other ads on almost every website.
According to PageFair's most recent report, 11% of the global internet population is blocking ads in 2016. This is equivalent to about 605 million devices worldwide, 62% of which are mobile devices (308 million).
The growth of adblock usage is exponential. From January 2015 to December 2016, adblock on desktop browsers saw an increase of 30%, while mobile browsers saw a staggering increase of 162%. Most of the mobile growth is from the Asia-Pacific region and it's expected to grow in North America and Europe in the near future. There's no mention of Australia, but it's hard not to imagine that it'll also continue to grow.
Per online capita, Australia currently ranks as the 6th highest for desktop adblock penetration at 20%. For mobile adblock penetration, it's tied for 5th place at 2%.
If you're interested, check out the full report here: the state of the blocked web
Motivation behind adblock usage
PageFair surveyed 4262 US citizens to determine their reasons for blocking ads.
Here's what they found:
"Security" was the number one reason cited for using adblock. 30% of respondents said virus and malware concerns drove them to block ads.
"Interruption" was the next on the list. 29% of respondents felt that ads were intrusive and degraded the quality of their web browsing experience.
Other reasons included speed (slow website load times), number of ads, privacy, and poor frequency capping (seeing the same ad too many times).
Demographics of adblock users
According to the report, men are 34% more likely than women to use adblock software on their devices. It's very interesting to see that adblock usage rate is not primarily among the younger age groups only. On average, 15% of seniors online use adblock.
Adblock users also tend to be more educated. 45% of those surveyed have a bachelor's degree or higher. Adblock users in the US are 1.5 times more likely to have a bachelor's degree than the average American adult and 3 times more likely if they're among 18-24 age group.
How this effects the advertising industry
Many content-based websites count on ad revenue to stay afloat. In exchange for valuable content, ads are displayed. But with adblock, customers view content without having to see any ads. Just imagine yourself reading your favourite blog without all the Google banner ads.
Ad buyers are also affected as there are less impressions with the increasing number of adblock users.
To mitigate the negative effects, businesses are turning to adblock walls. A wall (pop-up) appears and prevents users from accessing the content behind it when an adblock is detected. Users are asked to disable their adblock or whitelist the site to proceed.
Here's an example we found on Business Insider:
But do adblock walls actually work?
90% of survey respondents have encountered a wall before. But 74% of them refuse to disable their adblock and leave the website instead, unless the content can't be found elsewhere.
Older internet users and men are more likely to leave than disable their adblock according to the report.
Ad formats that adblock users prefer
Interruptive ad formats were the number one cause of user frustration, whereas non-interruptive ads were more acceptable.
77% of adblock users found some ad formats acceptable. 52% of these adblock users expressed a preference for static banner ads while 35% prefer skippable video ads.
31% of adblock users surveyed disliked non-skippable video ads most, while 23% disliked auto-play audio ads.
Although stats on native ads weren't mentioned, it's interesting to see that they're considered neutral. Native ads are integrated into the content of the website. For example, the sponsored newsfeed posts on Facebook. Since they're often not interruptive, it's surprising to see that it doesn't lean more on the preferred side.
Adblock is similar to having a firewall or anti-virus software. Because it's free, adoption should continue to soar globally. Businesses will need to find new ways to connect with their audiences. Try using SMS as a tool to reach out to your customers.