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European audiences are twice as likely to block ads as Americans

One-in-four internet users in mainland Europe’s leading markets block online advertising, double the rate of US audiences, according to a study from ComScore and Sourcepoint released the same week as ad blocking apps surge in popularity on Apple’s App Store.

The findings come as Sourcepoint, headed by serial entrepreneur Ben Barokas, prepares its expansion to the continent where publishers have struggled in their legal challenges to outfits such as AdBlock Plus.

The findings demonstrate that 27 per cent of French internet users, and 24 per cent of German internet users have installed ad blocking software on their web browsers or devices, compared to the US where the install-rate is still in single figures (nine per cent), or the UK where it is 10 per cent (see chart below).

Sourcepoint, a company that pledges to help publishers minimise the impact of ad blockers, has opened a German office, and is poised for an additional launch in France – the two leading European markets for such software.

Barokas, Sourcepoint’s chief executive, confirmed with The Drum that his company had appointed Thomas Mendrina, to lead its German operations, which will be headquartered in Berlin, with a view to extending its headcount there to six in the mid-to-near future. The company also plans to open in France in the first quarter of next year.

French and German media owners, including Die Zeit, Handelsblatt and RTL, have all been thwarted in earlier legal attempts to tackle Germany-based Ab Block Plus provider Eyeo this year, with judges there ruling consumers’ installing the software were within their rights, that Eyeo could not be pursued under anti-competitive laws.

Barokas further went on to claim that interest in the Germany market was “very, very high”, adding that the company was in ‘test-phase’, with some of the leading publishers there.

He added: “We’re helping solve problems for publishers that want sustainable media operations. It’s the top-tier publishers that are interested [in Sourcepoint’s proposition].”

The ComScore study further delved into ad blocking’s impact on publishers heralding further bad news, as an analysis of the amount of page views blocked in each market suggested that audiences that install ad blocking software consume more content on average, compared to those who don’t.

Further still, an income segmentation of those employing such software indicates they are more likely to come from a higher income bracket (and therefore more to appeal to advertisers). Click here to find more insights generated by the study.

Barokas recently appeared on a panel session debating the matter with ad blocking outfit Shine Technologies, where he publicly admonished the Israel-based outfit for “extortion” in his opinion.

The panel took place at last week’s ATS London, hosted by research outfit ExchangeWire. Ciaran O’Kane, chief executive of ExchangeWire, who offered his assessment of the implications of ad blocking, and how it affected every tier of the media industry.

He told The Drum: “At the end of the day, advertisers don’t pay for ads if they are not served, those most hurt by it are publishers.

“In some ways this [phenomena of ad blocking] has been brought on by some publishers chasing [as much advertising] yield [as they can] and over-serving ads. This has hurt the consumer experience [as more ads mean longer page load times, etc.].”

This argument has been adopted by Shine Technologies, which (somewhat ironically) took out a full-page ad in the FT, which claimed that ads sent to mobile phone users consumed as much as 50 per cent of network subscribers’ mobile data allowances.

Meanwhile, the ComScore and Sourcepoint report also contains a wider analysis of global ad blocking rates, which indicate that ad blocking incidents are more popular in emerging markets with the study suggesting that ad blocking rates hit 7.9 per cent in China, and 9 per cent in India, in terms of page views.

The research comes as Apple approved apps permitting the blocking of in-app mobile ads to be downloaded from the App Store, with such apps subsequently surging to the top of the top of the charts, and prompting widespread unease among both the advertiser, and publisher community.

Last week, The Drum also caught up with Bem Williams of Adblock Plus producer Eyeo at the Dmexco conference in Germany to get an insight into its point-of-view on the ad blocking debate (see below).

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