The ad block epidemic
Ad blockers. They’re a growing threat to advertisers around the world, but should we be viewing them as a threat? Ad blockers are a symptom of the population’s distrust and impatience with ads. More and more companies and services are offering their customers the ability to use them without ads; Netflix, Spotify, Youtube. Why are they doing this?
To start, let’s discuss some important facts and figures. Ad blocking terrifies advertisers and for good reason. As of February 2017, 23% of respondents in the US utilised software that allows them to block ads. This figure was slightly lower for the UK, at 22%, but much higher for some countries such as Greece, at 36%. These percentages have undoubtedly risen since this time.
This study was conducted online, so it’s important to note that these numbers may not be as representative for older demographics. It’s a worrying trend for advertisers, though, and one that is projected to continue rising. By the end of 2017, YouGov data suggested that the number of US internet users using some form of ad blocking software had risen by 17 million to 86.6 million. Large sections of online audiences aren’t just ignoring ads, they’re not seeing them at all!
Why are more and more people turning to ad blockers?
Ad blockers, in many cases, improve the experience of using the internet. People don’t install ad blockers because they don’t want to see ads, they install ad blockers because the experience of using a lot of websites is spoiled by numerous intrusive and jarring ads. It isn’t just annoying seeing the ads, it’s annoying that they make their favourite websites difficult and unenjoyable to use.
People care deeply about ease of use and a great customer experience. When this experience is spoilt with excessive and inappropriate ads, they will either go somewhere else or install an ad blocker. Either way, the advertisers lose out on business and the website loses out on ad revenue.
Does that mean websites should remove ads?
No, websites/advertisers do not have to remove all of their ads to stop people from using ad blockers. All they have to do is ensure that the experience of using their website isn’t hampered by these ads. The ads should be placed in areas where they aren’t obstructive, they should be few enough that the content of the website remains the key focal point, and the ads should be relevant to the user.
A good idea is to consider trialling changes for websites, especially if these changes include adding more ads. Getting customer feedback can help website owners make more informed decisions about the direction they take their website in. The same goes for advertisers when creating new ads.
What does the future hold for ads?
Nobody has a crystal ball, but if advertisers and website owners keep using the same strategies that they are using at the moment, ad blockers will only become more popular.
It’s time for advertisers to innovate and realise that internet users are changing. As I’ve said throughout this blog, customers only use ad blockers because ads affect their experience in a bad way. As soon as ads start benefitting user experience and providing value, there’ll be no reason for ad blockers.
 Statista – Adblocking penetration rate in selected countries worldwide as of February 2017 – https://www.statista.com/statistics/351862/adblocking-usage/
 YouGov – Annoying ads: Just one of the many reasons why people use ad blockers – https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/09/02/why-people-use-ad-blockers/