What Is Behind The Rise Of The Ad Blockers?
The use of Ad blockers increased 41% YoY in Q2 of this year, with an estimated 12 million people now blocking ads in the UK.
The unprecedented growth of Ad blocking software online is becoming more than just an irritant within media and advertising circles. In fact the use of Ad blockers increased 41% YoY in Q2 of this year, with an estimated 12 million people now blocking ads in the UK.
The growing problem throws up all sorts of issues including user privacy, advertising quality and whether the entire ad-funded model is under threat for publishers. Clearly it’s an issue that isn’t going away. So what is driving the behaviour? And what can be done about it?
For people who are downloading Ad blockers, many aren’t aware of the wider consequences of their actions. A recent IAB study discovered just this – 56% of people who blocked ads didn’t realise that it meant lost revenue for website owners. The worrying thing is that the same survey found that people were no more likely to stop using the software once they were told that their free content was funded by the ads they are served. Most people just want to have their cake and eat it; get free content without having to see ads at all. The question to ask is - would ad blockers be as popular if ads were more relevant for people online?
Personalisation is arguably at the centre of the debate. We’ve all experienced that item that we browsed for once, subsequently following us around the web for days after – which can be a bit obtrusive. But personalisation can be really cool – walking around the town centre and getting unique ads and offers sent through to your mobile is something consumers have readily accepted. It’s a tough one to call – is it up to the advertisers and publishers to make advertising more interesting? Or would people block ads anyway in an effort to get to their content quickly, easily and for free? Research suggests the latter - 66% of people would prefer to have both free content and no ads.
Concerns over privacy are an often-quoted reason for Ad blocking; many people don’t like the thought of their personal info – what they’ve been looking at, what their interests are, where they are browsing from – to be known by advertisers. So it’s hard to say whether more relevant ads would increase or decrease the use of Ad blockers.
It’s tricky to imagine a world where people have to pay to access the content they are currently getting for free. But the damaging effect of Ad blockers on the industry needs to stop. So it seems there need to be steps taken from all sides to nip this in the bud. People blocking ads need to realise that they can’t have both free content and block ads simultaneously and publishers need to make clear the damage Ad blocking is doing to the industry.
Perhaps when the abundance of free content we consume really comes under threat, and creativity in online advertising becomes more established, the growth in the use of Ad blockers will start to reverse.
Find out more on the future of Culture at our DLUK - Trends Briefing on the 24th September 2015