UK publishers lose nearly £3bn in revenue annually due to adblocking

The UK has one of the highest rates of ad blocking worldwide, according to OnAudience

The UK has one of the highest rates of adblocking worldwide, with over a third (39%) of page views blocking ads, resulting in a loss of more than £2.9bn in publisher revenue in 2017, according to report by OnAudience.com.

The revenue gulf has increased 15% from the £2.5bn loss UK publishers suffered in 2016. Internationally, the loss of publisher revenue from ad blocking has risen by a third to $42bn (£32bn), indicating that the threat of adblockers on sites reliant on advertising for revenue is becoming a more pressing issue.

However, the figures represent a marked increase from other adblocking reports. In June eMarketer's report claimed that 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. IAB UK's figures put the proportion of internet users using adblocking software at 22.1%, but the association has said that some of those claiming to use an ad blocker cited their anti-virus software as their ad blocker, meaning the actual figure drops to 18%. Page Fair's report puts the proportion of UK adblockers at 16%, while comScore's puts it at 18%.

The report has been run by OnAudience.com, a part of Cloud Technologies Group, and supported by PHD Media Direction, a part of Omnicom Group. It represents the scale of ad blocking in 60 markets across the world to raise awareness of the issue across the entire industry.

The study compares key market research concerning the scale of ad blocking, with display market value and the estimated loss due to ad blocking, as well as e-commerce turnover generated by ad blocking users.

The results from the UK reflect a broad trend across the European market where consumers are more likely to block ads, with almost a third (32%) of internet users in the region utilising ad blocker plugins. Poland was found to have the highest ad blocking rates at 46%, followed by Greece (44%), Norway (42%), Germany (41%), and Denmark (40%). The Netherlands and Ireland were identically ranked to the UK, with 39% of page views blocking ads.

However, the adoption of ad blockers across the globe is not so prevalent. The USA and Japan recorded ad blocking rates of just 26%, where education and awareness of ad blockers is high, but consumers choose not to use them, the report suggested.

The lowest rates were found in Latin America, with Paraguay recording the lowest rates of ad blocked page views (5%), while Peru and Venezuela scored the second and third lowest ad blocking rates globally (13% and 10% respectively).

The OnAudience.com report also demonstrates the impact of ad blocking on the e-commerce industry, reporting that a third (32%) of consumers visiting e-commerce sites in Europe have an ad blocker installed.

In total, almost two in five (38%) of online shoppers who complete an online transaction do not see an ad before purchasing.

Maciej Sawa, chief commercial officer at OnAudience.com, said: "There has been much discussion calling for advertising to provide a better user experience, but this report clearly shows that not enough is being done as ad blocking rates continue to rise – causing a significant loss for publishers and the advertising industry as a whole.

“Ultimately user experience is key, so it is extremely important for the entire digital marketing industry to keep the consumer in mind and ensure that their journey is relevant, contextual, and meaningful ­– if we are to ever convince them not to install ad blockers."

Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

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