PageFair 2016 Report: Ad Blocking Goes Mobile

We at PageFair are pleased to release a new report on mobile adblocking.

We have tested hundreds of adblocking apps, and have analyzed Apple and Android mobile blocking app downloads in a research collaboration with app-intelligence firm Priori Data. The result is an overview of the landscape of mobile adblocking, and a new understanding of its scale. This new report finds that mobile ads are now vulnerable to blocking, whether on the mobile web or in-app. Adblocking is going mobile, and in a way that will surprise many.

Quick Facts:

  • At least 309 million people (16% of the world’s 1.9bn smartphone users) are blocking ads on the mobile web.
  • Both mobile web and in-app ads can now be blocked.
  • As of March 2016 an estimated 298 million people are actively using mobile adblocking browsers (i.e., a mobile browser that blocks ads by default).
  • As of March 2016 there are 116 million users of mobile adblocking browsers in China, 89 million in India, and 28 million in Indonesia.
  • As of March 2016 in Europe and North America there were 8.9 million monthly active users of mobile adblocking browsers.
  • A further 4.9 million content blocking and in-app adblocking apps were downloaded from the app stores in Europe and North America since September 2014.

Adblocking is now the most hotly discussed topic in the digital media industry. Many publishers and advertisers have hoped that mobile platforms and walled gardens would offer a refuge from adblocking. As this report shows, this is not the case. However, there are grounds for optimism.
Since the widely-cited PageFair-Adobe report in August 2015 we have drawn together global stakeholders (consumer groups, advertisers, agencies, and publishers) for a series of high-level roundtables on both sides of the Atlantic to discuss how to sustainably advertise on the new ‘Blocked Web’ portion of the Web in a way that solves the consumer issues that caused adblocking.

Responses from industry leaders

Before releasing this report we asked global industry leaders for their reactions. Here is what they said.

We have heard the message loud and clear: an increasing number of people aren’t satisfied with the online ad experience, and they’re voting with their feet. The ad industry needs to better understand what is driving them to opt for ad-blocking, and address the underlying issues head-on. Brand-owners are determined to take the lead.

Stephan Loerke, CEO, World Federation of Advertisers

This new report highlights something we’ve been discussing in the industry for a while now: consumers are pushing back on mobile and online ads. Now is the time for advertising professionals and marketers to take a hard look at ourselves to understand why consumers are not responding to these types of ads, and figure out how we can correct the issue to better engage with the consumers we’re trying to reach.

Nancy Hill, CEO, 4A’s

This research only amplifies our concern in the rise of ad blocking across digital media. The perception that all ads can be blocked is quickly becoming reality as awareness grows. Any channel of consumption is at risk at this point. We believe an industry-wide focus on creating a better consumer experience for the blocked web should be the first and only priority.

Jason Kint, CEO, Digital Content Next

Mobile is now a major channel for news consumption, and is growing rapidly. Adblocking on mobile threatens this growth. We as an industry knowingly allowed bloated ads to run amok on news sites, packed with enough tracking software to annoy readers to ad nauseam, and causing a host of UX problems for users. We have to fix this.

Vincent Peyrègne, CEO, World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

PageFair’s Mobile Adblocking Report is by far the most comprehensive and thorough research on the matter. For the first time, publishers get an invaluable dataset an analysis on the impact of adblockers on mobile — a burning issue for the industry.

Frederic Filloux, Editor, The Monday Note

The public is not inherently hostile to advertising. There are magazines (like Vogue) and TV programs (like the Super Bowl), where people’s primary interest is the ads. What people hate are bad ads. Digital advertising is still too derivative of print and TV advertising. We have no ad vocabulary that is optimized to the digital environment experience. People love Vine videos — so why are there no 7 second ads? We also measure digital ads by a metric — “impressions” — that has no real meaning or value. If we don’t fix these problems, and we allow ad blockers to take over, then we will be left with small, subscription models that will exclude large portions of the public. Not being able to afford HBO is one thing. Not being able to afford quality news would be a much more serious problem.

David Chavern, CEO, Newspaper Association of America

Adblocking is an exceptionally important issue facing all digital content creators. Blocking the ad blockers at the point of engagement with websites is an option in the short run, but in the long run the solution probably lies in advertising that moves away from clutter, from CPM-based selling, to premium solutions. To this end the media owners FIPP represents, and the advertisers and other stakeholders have a job to do to clean up the UX mess that led to this situation. FIPP hopes to play a user role in the journey to better.

Chris Llewellyn, CEO, International Federation of Periodical Publishers (FIPP)

Please fill out the form below to download your copy of the 2016 PageFair Adblock Report