Ad blocker usage is up 30%

pg5- devices using adblock software on the open web.jpg

Ad blocker usage surged 30% in 2016, according to a new report from PageFair, a company that helps publishers regain revenue lost to the software.

There were 615 million devices blocking ads worldwide by the end of 2016, 62% (308 million) of those mobile. Desktop ad blocker usage grew 17% year-on-year to 236 million… More at Business Insider.

We all know that bad websites and over-intrusive advertisers are part of the problem, but I am fairly sure that the majority of people who use ad blockers do so because they can. They speed up websites, they make them look cleaner and there are many other benefits.

I am also fairly sure that this kind of activity will kill off all but the very biggest content only websites if it continues. As an example, if Lost In Mobile suddenly gained thousands and thousands of readers each day and I placed a single advert on the site, what would happen?

The advertiser would quite rightly want to see some metrics to understand if the money they spend is worthwhile and if they end up seeing a much lower number of readers that there actually is, they will not advertise again.

Some people say that subscriptions and protected sites are an alternative, but the reality is that most websites rely on traffic and that ad blockers effectively kill that traffic in a commercial sense.

What are we to do?

Categories: Site, Tech News

5 replies

  1. What will happen if you place an advert on the site? Probably nothing, if it is a self-hosted advert. In fact, if it is for a company or product which you rate, and which is of relevance to the readers, it may even prove valuable to the advertiser.

    Stick in a placeholder which gets filled by an ad based on user stalking, served up by an ad network and with mechanisms for tracking visitor behaviour and, yes, is fully expect it to be blocked.

    There is definitely a degree of “tidying up the page”, but a small, relevant, static ad may not put off too many regular readers. But an ad which is the product of stalkig may well do.

    • Problem is that many people block ads regardless of what site they are visiting. I get what you are saying about self hosted ads, but in the real world they don’t tend to happen. Doesn’t affect LIM, but I believe that some form of analytics is required for companies to even advertise. Rightly or wrongly, if they want that, how are sites to survive if that is blocked?

      • I don’t think that this is the case technically. Few ad blockers, as far as I’m aware, block self-hosted / first-party ads, especially if they do not have “ad” in the URL. If this is indeed the case, basic analytics (number of impressions) would be fine, since the web server can give these easily. Similarly, country information (by IP address) would be readily visible. Demographic based analytics would not be possible — and it is the stalking which enables this to which many people object, in my opinion.

  2. I used to work for an online ads company. Especially before it was bought by AOL, Millennial Media / Jumptap really had this idea of a mandate, of being a 3rd way (beyond the privacy wastelands of FB and Google) to financially power the independent web.

    Tough tough problem. No one wants to pay for anything online.
    Partially because we’re all cheap bastards.
    Partially because we’re worried that even “micropayments” would spiral out of control.
    Or any variant system I can brainstorm is prone to abuse – like if people paid a BBC-esque flat fee for web content that was then divided across the sites you used… (Or what if there was a flat fee, but you got to select how it was apportioned across…) eh, just speculating anyway, there’s nothing like that on the horizon.

    Of course that reminds me of one of my least favorite anti-ads arguments “but I’m already paying for Internet!” , like that money had anyway of making it to the content provider. (Of course, on mobile, that represents a more legitimate gripe about bandwidth…)

  3. I started using an ad blocker because of all the intrusive ads. If a site I trust to be reasonable with ads asks me to remove the ad blocker, I do.

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