The latest stats released by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) suggests that the use of ad blocking software amongst internet users is on the rise.
In a recent survey conducted online by YouGov has found that almost a quarter of British adults are now using ad blocking software. The results earlier this month show that 22% of users taking part in the survey, up from 18% last October.
Interestingly, of all the participants in the survey, over half (54%) said that they would switch off the ad blocking software if a website prevented them from viewing content with the ad blocker enabled. This figure rises to 73% for users on the 18-24 year-old category.
The ever-increasing use of ad blocking software has begun an online war between media publishers and consumers and has even led to the coining of the term, “adblockalypse”.
One can safely assume that the rise of ad blocking popularity is due, in part, to the invasive pop-up ads that disrupt our user journeys on an all too-frequent basis. Some to the extent that the original desired content is completely inaccessible, an issue that is prevalent on mobile. Another contributing factor is the fact that the means to track said-adverts is also becoming increasingly intrusive, with technology being so advanced now that cross-device tracking is no longer the stumbling block for advertisers it once was.
With consumers becoming increasingly aggrieved at the volume of intrusive and irrelevant adverts online, the protective counter-measures offered by ad blocking can seem appealing and has resulted in more than 1 in 5 British adults now utilising ad blockers, publishers will certainly be feeling the effects. Particularly when it is taken into consideration that most content is available to view to a user for free, as publishers generate their income through advertising. An advert-funded internet is integral to keep content freely available without subscriptions being introduced.
As publishers observe this impact on their revenues, tensions on the subject are beginning to reach boiling point. Some sites have taken action by completely blocking access to their content to users with ad blocking software enabled.
Meanwhile, over in Sweden an aggressive counter-offensive is being initiated, where around 20 of the top media houses, representing 80-90% of publishers, have banded together for a summer “Block Party”. This collective action will mean that throughout the month of August, their website will place a blanket ban on users with ad blocking software installed on browsers, therefore “blocking the blockers”.
What users of ad blockers aren’t always aware of is that ad block software companies will collect and sell their user data. Advertising companies also have the option to pay the ad block companies a fee to be whitelisted and continue to have their ads displayed even with ad block enabled.
But Whittingdale also seemed empathetic to the end-user. He said, “Quite simply – if people don’t pay in some way for content, then that content will eventually no longer exist,”
“We need the whole advertising sector to be smarter. If we can avoid the intrusive ads that consumers dislike, then I believe there should be a decrease in the use of ad-blockers”.
Simply put, this means that the issue of ad blocking is becoming so prominent that the government can appreciate it as an issue from both the publisher and the end-user's perspective and appear to be considering taking action in some way.
Rather than have government officials decide on the publics behalf, what would be more prudent is if there was a collective think-tank to represent both sides of the debate. If there is some to middle ground to be found, where advertising standards online were introduced to ensure intrusive ads were no longer an issue, this would negate the need for ad blocking. Thus keeping our internet content, for the most part, free for all to access.