Adblocking problem ‘yet to be solved’ as one-fifth of UK internet browsers install software this year

Ad blocking on mobile not as fast as anticipated

More than one-fifth (20.9%) of UK internet users will use adblocking software this year, with the total number number forecast to hit 11.4 million, according to eMarketer.

The figures represents a slight downward adjustment from last year's estimates due to a slower uptake on mobile devices, and while the estimate has been reduced, growth continues, at 10.3%. Although, that rate will drop to single digits in 2018, to 8.1%.

What’s more, while adblocking was once seen as the preserve of young, and often male, early adopters and gamers, it's becoming more common among other demographic groups.

More than half (52.4%) of adblockers will be male in 2017, but that proportion will drop to 50.8% next year. Similarly, while larger proportions of millennials use such software, usage among other age groups is growing.

For example, a quarter (24.7%) of 34- to 44-year-olds will user an adblocker in 2018. By the end of 2018, eMarketer expects 22.2% of UK internet users, or 12.3 million, to use adblocking software on at least one of their devices.

Google recently announced that it will launch a version of the Chrome web browser that will automatically blocks annoying ads in early 2018, and earlier this week Apple revealed it will introduce an ad tracker blocker for its Safari web browser as part of an update to its desktop OS; both of which will likely boost this number.

The uptake of adblocking by mobile users in the UK has been slow in comparison, despite its surge in the Asia-Pacific area, since no single solution for in-app blocking has yet taken off in the UK.

Meanwhile, of the 11.4 million UK residents that will block ads this year, the majority (89.0%) will do so on a desktop or laptop PC, according to eMarketer estimates.

A third of adblock users (33.8%) will block ads on smartphones this year, while that number will rise slightly to 37.3% in 2018 until in-app adblocking becomes easy to execute and more widespread.

Commenting on the UK numbers, Bill Fisher, eMarketer’s senior UK analyst, said: “The rate of growth in adblocking users still presents a very real problem for advertisers and marketers.

“However, the threat hasn’t taken off quite as quickly as we’d originally thought. Some of the publisher responses to the problem have had positive effects, indicating that UK internet users may be persuaded to turn off their adblocking software if the benefits of ad-supported content can be better communicated and the advertising better delivered.”

Similarly, the latest Mary Meeker report contains numbers from PageFair which suggest 1% of UK smartphone users have such software on their devices, compared to 13% in China (see chart below).

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