Wednesday, September 13, 2017
The Continued Rise of Ad Blocking – We need to respect the reader

The digital ad race to generate advertising revenue has a lot of online publishers not taking into account the effect it will have on readers. To quote Rodney Dangerfield “ I get no respect, no respect at all” reflects what consumers are feeling today with digital ads. This lack of respect for the reader is having a huge side effect as the use of ad blockers is on the rise with Millennials the biggest adopters. My 19-year old son says that he is getting tired of all the ads he is seeing on Facebook and Snapchat and will be downloading an ad blocker soon for his Apple iPhone. Basically he just ignores the ads now and skips through them. As you can see digital advertising is not very effective when there is so much ad clutter. It needs to be tasteful and not overwhelming to get the attention of the reader.


I first reported about the use of Ad blockers in a 2016 blog posting and it is time to update you on this growing issue to see where this is going. It has been estimated that 17-24% of internet users in Canada are using ad blockers now which suggests the effectiveness of current ad strategies needs to be revisited. The USA market according to Emarketer is seeing this trend also with 24% (2016 estimate) of the internet population using ad blockers and is expected to grow to 30% in 2018. Google is now planning to install one as a default program in the Chrome browser in 2018 so it will look like it will be mainstream sooner than we think.



The use of an ad blocker is pretty even across all age groups according to this survey by GlobalWebIndex. The 25-34 age group had the highest at 26%. It has been estimated 40% of desktop users are using ad blockers and 15% of smartphone users with growth in users to rise in smartphones. 



You can download an ad blocker as an extension for your web browser and one of  the most popular ones is AdBlock Plus (I use this btw) that is available for Macs and Chrome users. In this example on the website 9 ads were blocked, but you have the ability to turn off the ad blockers as some sites in the USA now are able to recognize ad blockers and they ask you to turn it off if you want read the content (called white listing). Since I start using the ad blocker the site’s web pages and video load faster.



Why are people using ad blocking software? According to the GlobalWebIndex study of USA users, the #1 reason is 49% feel that there are too many ads and they are annoying or irrelevant, followed by #2 at 40% there are too many ads and are intrusive.  My favourite at #7 (29%) is I don’t like seeing video ads before I’m allowed to watch video content. I found this so irritating personally when watching sports highlights that I use ad blockers for all my sports web sites as they slow down the viewing experience and crash my smartphone sometimes. 


In another study of users by the IAB in Australia the most common reason for using ad blockers is to prevent from getting a virus. So security against scammers is also a huge concern and this was seen in all age groups.



Here is an ad that keeps coming up on my smartphone for this dating site in the Ukraine, that is annoying as it is following me everywhere I surf now. This site is trying to get me to sign up by using the lure of attractive women that will flirt with me online, that are most likely fake people or a chatbot. They charge me to talk with them or could be a credit card phishing scam. A traditional publisher will never approve this ad for their site but for Google this is OK as they do not care who advertises in their ad network. I would rather now block this ad going forward.



The industry is trying to create a technology work around to circumvent ad blockers but that is not the answer as it most likely alienate the reader even more. The use of behavioural tracking will even make matter worse as users just do not like being spied on and will be just another reason to block ads to protect their privacy (#8 and #9 in why I use ad blockers). The ad tech community will hype the fact they are losing ad dollars to ad blockers, but what they do not realize they are losing customers forever because of this greed and subsequent sinful business practices. The only way consumers fight back against this greed is to install an ad blocker. This total lack of respect of the reader will have the ad tech industry shoot themselves in the foot for short-term gain.

- Martin Seto
About Me
Martin Seto

Martin Seto is the producer of the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAS) with 30 years of life expereince in technology, advertising, media and creative exploration. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at) or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

Most Recent Blog Comment
Lorene Shyba says:
Full of terrific information, Thanks!...
Blog Archive
2024 (1)
2023 (3)
2022 (3)
2021 (1)
2020 (3)
2019 (2)
2018 (6)
2017 (13)
2016 (14)
2015 (12)
2014 (12)
2013 (12)
2012 (12)
2011 (12)
2010 (8)