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.


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