Mobile devices running adblockers have overtaken desktop adblocker usage globally due to their rapid adoption in Asia during 2016, according to a recent report from Page Fair. The company often releases data recognized as reputable; however, it notably also sells anti-adblocker technology to publishers.
According to the report, devices with mobile adblockers increased by 108 million from December 2015 to December 2016 internationally, reaching 380 million in total. This represented 62% of the adblock software that was run worldwide on 615 million devices.
However, the practice was highly centralized in Asia-Pacific, where 94% of global mobile adblock usage occurred and grew by 40% over the previous year.
The study also offers country breakdowns for desktop, mobile, and overall adblock penetration. Indonesia stood out in particular for running adblockers on 58% of mobile devices and 8% on desktops. Next came India with 28% and 1% respectively.
Figures reveal a much different story for the rest of the globe. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, only 1% of mobile users in each country used adblockers. Desktop adblock usage was 18% and 16%, respectively. Further ad market data by region and country is shown in the charts below.
While the use of mobile adblockers remains low in Europe and North America, Page Fair warns are no obstacles preventing equally quick growth in these regions.
“Mobile adblock usage is spreading rapidly due to partnerships between adblocking browsers and device manufacturers & distributors,” states the report. “Mass adoption in North America and Europe will continue organically, but may accelerate unexpectedly if manufacturers or distributors close deals to pre-configure adblock software.”
The effectiveness of adblockers
Some online publishers have begun fighting back against adblocking by making readers turn them off before entering the full site. However, the report states that this strategy generally doesn’t work. From a survey of adblock users in the United States carried out in November 2016, they found that 90% had encountered an adblock wall. However, 74% of them said they leave websites in such cases, with older Internet users and men more likely to abandon a site.
“Adblock walls are ineffective at motivating most adblock users to disable their adblock software, even temporarily. Unless the website in question has valued content that cannot be obtained elsewhere, an adblock wall is likely to be ineffective at combatting adblock usage at any significant rate,” said the report.
Notably, adblock users don’t reject all ad formats. 77% of those surveyed said they find some formats permissible. For example, 52% said they prefer static banners, but 35% prefer skippable ads. Nearly a third said they disliked non-skippable video ads, and nearly a quarter were against auto-play audio ads.
“Interruptive ad formats are the primary cause of user frustration, while non-interruptive formats, such as static banner ads, are broadly accepted,” concluded the report.
These statistics reveal that adblock users are largely concerned with a seamless user experience. Encountering an adblock wall and being asked to disable it, in itself, is viewed as an annoying interruption and doesn’t appear to be winning over frustrated news consumers.
Currently, we are also seeing tension between publishers and platforms like Facebook, with the latter having more influence on what news items people see. As more and more people rely on social media platforms for media content, particularly millennials, the issue is particularly salient.
Facebook has succeeded with technology that serves ads on the blocked web. A solution going forward may be publishers creating their own closed platforms. If they can’t produce enough unique content to garner digital subscriptions, at least they can combat adblockers and focus on offering advertising that doesn’t bother consumers in an environment they can control.