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Ad Blocking- Bitter Medicine for the Ad Industry?

by User Not Found | Sep 28, 2015

Ad-blocking is causing heated debate among advertisers, publishers and ad tech companies, and Apple’s decision to allow ad-blocking plug-ins for its mobile Safari web browser is just adding fuel to the fire. Less than two days after iOS 9 was released Apple users are rushing to download ad-blocking apps such as Peace, Purify and Crystal, which have soared to the top of Apple’s App Store charts.

Ad blocking, however, is a problem that extends far beyond Apple. According to a study by Adobe and Pagefair, ad-blocking will cost advertisers over $21 billion in 2015, this represents about 13% of the $163.4 billion advertisers will spend on digital advertising in 2015. (See Strategy Analytics Global Advertising Forecast for more information.)

Adobe and Pagefair estimate that there were 198 million users of ad blocking software as of Q2 2015, accounting for 6% of the global Internet population and that the number of people using ad blocking software grew by 41% from Q2 2014 to Q2 2015 globally.

Furthermore, the impact of ad blocking on publishers will grow as more people adopt ad blocking apps, especially those using mobile browsers. While ad blocking on mobile has been uncommon up until now, its increase will need to be closely watched.

Some publishers already are responding to ad blocking. If you’re using ad blocking, you may have seen one of  these pictures:

wp ad blocking
The Washington Post: Pay for it if you don’t like ads!

 Hulu: Want it free? Watch ads!
Hulu: Want it free? Watch ads!

Ad targeting and ad blocking shouldn’t be a cat-and-mouse game but increasingly Internet users are being inundated with an intolerable number of intrusive ads as such as…

  • Pop-over ads
  • Pop-up ads
  • Full-screen “interstitials”

In addition, an abundance of ads on pages causes longer page load time. Ad blockers can cut page load times on desktops in half, and make pages load three times faster on mobile. When some top entertainment and news sites taken over 30 seconds to load without ad blockers, and only 10 seconds to load with an ad blocker installed, it is not surprising that users are making the determination that ad blockers are a net positive. Like the Washington Post and Hulu in the above examples, publishers have the option to block users of ad blocking apps, however, this is a short sighted response as all it will do is diminish traffic on the site as users turn to other sources for news and entertainment. 

In the end,I think the popularity of ad block apps will boost the maturity of the digital advertising efforts. If users refuse sites that are covered in ads, then instead of quantity the industry must move towards a quality approach that users will be more accepting of. It is urging advertisers, ad agencies and publishers to improve their efficiency and targeting capabilities, while at the same time maintaining user friendliness and not having a negative impact on user's attempts to read the desired content.

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