A recently completed audit by the Association for Online Publishing has found that ad-blocking fell to 10.3% last year, from 11.6% in 2017 and 12.5% in 2016.
Whilst encouraging news for publishers at face value, the financial impact continues to increase, with losses up by more than 30% due to the continued rise in online audiences (and available ad impressions).
Desktop ad-blocking has declined from 30% (H2 2016) to 20% (H2 2018), with AdBlock Plus, the company behind the most-used ad-blocker, stating this is due to more people choosing to filter ads rather than block them entirely. Pop-ups on publisher sites asking users to turn off their ad-blocker, or those that prevent access entirely until the ad blocker is turned off, also appear to be working. Audiences increasingly accept the value exchange of good-quality, non-intrusive ads for free content on premium publisher sites.
Ad-blocking on mobile has grown but on a smaller scale and from a smaller base, doubling from 1.2% to 2.4% between Q4 2017 and Q4 2018, a figure that we can expect to rise as users demand increased privacy protection and control over their browsers. Alternative browser Brave, with built-in ad blocking, continues to grow in popularity, passing 10 million Android downloads in Jan 2019.
While the prevalence of ad-blocking is slowing, it remains a concern for publishers. Already significant losses may widen with new updates to Chrome and Safari – and the launch of Apple’s anti-tracking software ITP 2.2 later this year.
Publishers should take note of the lessons learnt on desktop and focus on creating ad experiences that are as high-quality and non-intrusive as possible, whilst being transparent and open with their audiences about the benefits of an ad-supported business model.