Blockthrough, a company that provides software and methods to counter adblocking – has released a report in collaboration with their subsidiary company PageFair, that highlights the significant new trends in consumer adoption of adblocking around the world. According to the report, the battleground of the adblock wars has shifted to mobile. Mobile is driving a rapid expansion in the population of the internet, and a large portion of these people are starting out with browsers that block ads by default. Here are the key findings –
The Adblock landscape
- The frequency of use of desktop adblock software has begun to decline, as users spend more time on their mobile devices.
- In Q4 of 2019, there were 236 million monthly active desktop users (MAUs).
- The report gathered census data from 37 countries that disclosed the number of desktop computers in use between 2013 – 2018, and compared this to the number of desktop adblock MAUs, in each country during those years. According to the data, the number of desktop computers in use in most countries has plateaued or is slowly falling.
- The percentage of desktop traffic subject to adblocking tends to be higher than actual user adoption rates, as adblock users generally consume more pageviews.
- More than twice as many people block ads on mobile compared to desktop.
- This growth is driven by mobile web browsers that block ads by default, especially in Asia.
- According to the report, UC Browser is the most popular adblock browser which is estimated to have 405 million users worldwide.
- Virtually all mobile web browsers except Google Chrome now support adblocking.
- Today, many mobile browsers perform adblocking by default.
- Most other major browsers now provide convenient opt-in adblocking, including Safari on iOS, where users can install content blockers, and Microsoft Edge.
Google and Ad Blocking
- The report also highlights Chrome’s popularity as a web browser, largely due to the success of the Android OS in developing economies.
- Chrome’s growth is almost matched by the combined market share of competing browsers that either perform adblocking by default, or support opt-in adblocking.
- In recent years, Google has introduced a variety of initiatives to hamper adblocking such as banning adblocking applications that block ads in other apps, on the basis that in-app adblocking could harm app developers and the play store ecosystem.
- In 2017, Google launched Funding Choices, a tool for publishers to control or block access to content for adblock users.
- In summary, Google has taken extensive action to make it difficult to block ads on Chrome. But these actions have also opened the door for adblock-enabled mobile browsers to compete and seize market share. However, on desktop, Google has successfully leveraged Chrome’s dominance to hamstring desktop adblocking extensions and stifle their growth.
How are publishers monetizing on adblock traffic?
The report reviewed the adblock monetization strategies employed on the websites of the top 100 US Comscore-ranked publishers out of which 56% of US publishers employed at least one adblock monetization strategy. The report highlighted the three main strategies that publishers can use to help mitigate the revenue impact of adblocking.
1. Ad Recovery via Acceptable Ads – This strategy involves publishers working with participating adblockers directly, or through dedicated third-party providers such as Blockthrough. The report stated that 49% of publishers employed this strategy, out of which 7% worked directly with participating adblockers.
2. Adblock Circumvention – This strategy involves using vendors who use technological means to evade adblocking and display ads to adblock users without giving them the ability to opt-out. The report stated that only 4% of publishers employed this strategy.
3. Messaging solution – Publishers utilize either in-house or third-party messaging solutions to display dialogs, that persuade users to either disable their adblocker or contribute monetarily, prior to accessing the content. The study states that half of the publishers served Acceptable Ads to users who didn’t comply with their messaging requests.
After several years of experimenting with various adblock monetization strategies, the top ad-funded publishers in America have embraced the Acceptable Ads ecosystem as their preferred channel for monetizing their adblocking audiences.