Cost of ad blocking more than doubles to £2.3bn in UK

Ad blocking will cost UK publishers $3.58bn (£2.3bn) in lost revenue this year as the number of people adopting technology that blocks ads from appearing on websites reaches 12 million people, or one in five online consumers, according to a new study.

More than one in five Brits are using ad blocking technology.

The report by PageFair and Adobe found there has been an 82% increase in the number of internet users adopting ad blockers on a monthly basis in the 12 months to June 2015. Across Europe ad blocking grew by 35% to 77 million while worldwide use was up 41% to 198 million active ad blockers.

In terms of ad revenue, the cost to publishers has more than doubled from $1.57bn in 2014 to $3.59bn this year. Globally that figure is expected to reach $41bn in 2015.

While the proportion of internet users making use of ad blockers is relatively low, at 6% globally, these are some of the biggest internet browsers. In total 14% of global ad spend could be impacted by ad blockers this year, according to the report.

People that access gaming and social media websites are most likely to block ads, at 26.5% and 19.1% respectively. By comparison visitors to health, charity and government or legal websites are least likely.

“Ad blocking behaviour on a website is a function of audience demographics. Websites that cater to young, technically savvy or more male audiences are significantly worse affected,” says the report.

In a survey of 400 US consumers conducted as part of the research, half said they would start using an ad blocker if they felt their personal data was being misused to create personalised ads. A further 41% said they would be tempted if the number of online ads increased, while 10% said marketers inability to target ads would make them consider using the technology.

Just 11% of people said they would never use an ad blocker.

The threat of mobile ad blocking

The report also suggests an imminent threat from mobile ad blockers. While they are yet to have a serious impact, accounting for just 1.6% of ad blocking hits, PageFair’s CEO Sean Blanchfield says the launch of the next iteration of Apple’s operating system, iOS 9, in September and introduction of popular tool AdBlock Plus on mobile could lead to a “collapse” in the internet economy.

“It is tragic that ad block users are inadvertently inflicting multi-billion dollar losses on the very websites they most enjoy. With ad blocking going mobile, there’s an eminent threat the business model that has supported the open web for two decades is going to collapse,” he adds.

The report was compiled by measuring ad blocking hits across PageFair’s client websites.

Hide Comments1 Show Comment
  • Peter Cunningham 12 Aug 2015 at 9:38 am

    Ad blocking is getting a lot of press at the moment.

    While part of me wonders if it is the same as the hype ten or so years ago when the predicted widespread adoption of Tivo meant people would not see ads on TV leading to the demise of the billion dollar ad industry. Well the Tivo never reached the heights predicted for it and went bust if I recall properly (although the technology lives on), but as TV viewing switched to online we got pre-rolls and interstitials online instead. So the doomsayers did not get to see the end of TV ads.

    I also don’t buy the idea that Millennials having grown up on free music won’t accept ads. They are totally happy with ads in Spotify, Deezer and Pandora and other services as long as they are not too intrusive and there is a reasonably priced option to subscribe for the service and lose the ads.

    But the ad blocker debate brings two points to mind:

    1) People wouldn’t install ad blockers in the first place if the ads were relevant, engaging and not a ##### nuisance that stops you enjoying the experience and content you came to see!

    How many websites freeze your browser for a few seconds or take ages to download so all the auto-play video can load? Then how annoying is autoplay video when you forget to mute your speakers in the office? How much of my monthly mobile data allowance is eaten by these parasites like autoplay video on Facebook?

    How many banners completely cover the page you are trying to read? My particular bug bear at the moment is the whole of page betting app ads that give you a small link that says ‘no go straight to the content’ and then despite clicking the link it opens the app store and suggest you download the app!

    When the ad industry reacts to low interaction rates with ads by increasing the ‘interruption’ part of ‘interruption advertising’ is it surprising people reach out to ad blockers?

    2) Perhaps the main lesson to draw from this is that the ‘interruption advertising reflex’ of the industry is the problem. The ad industry should lose its obsession with interrupting the experience and trying to divert our attention from what we came to do in the first place.

    Part of the answer is that relevant ads that add to the experience should get more interaction and may even be welcomed. But an even simpler answer is staring brands and retailers in the face! It is to stop advertising and instead engage and co-opt their customers to become a marketing channel. Properly targeted and implemented incentivised word of mouth campaigns or ‘customer get customer’ marketing gets around all known ad blockers! Here is our thoughts on the matter:

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