New figures demonstrate that one in five global smartphone users are using ad blockers on their devices.

PageFair conducted a report that shows that at least 419 million people are doing something to stop ads from appearing on their handsets. Seeing how there are about 1.9 billion smartphones on the market, the percentage of users who voluntarily block ads reaches 22 percent.

According to PageFair's findings, north of 400 million of ad blocker adopters are using mobile browsers that keep ads away by default. Most of these are in China, where the survey shows that 159 million people are using mobile ad-zapping browsers. Next in line is the growing mobile market of India, where 122 million people make use of ad-banning browsers.

"We found the results surprising because in the West we don't often consider what's going on in developing countries," says Sean Blanchfield, CEO of PageFair.

He adds that mobile ad blocking will reach the Western countries soon enough.

It is interesting to see that the trend is different in Europe and North America. In these markets, only 14 million active users are axing ads. However, some carriers are planning to implement pilot programs to block ads at a network level, with Three UK leading the pack.

There is a pretty good explanation for the heavier use of the software in emerging markets. It all boils down to minimizing mobile data costs, something that ad-blockers can help users achieve. With the aid of an ad blocker, a user can conserve data, which also translates into websites loading faster.

Not everyone applauds the decline of advertisements reaching their target audience. As some web pages are relying almost exclusively on advertising to keep going, the publishing industry is seriously taking into account subscriptions and paywalls. Big names in the tech industry could do with lesser ads on their pages and still register quarterly profit, but smaller platforms are much more ad-dependent.

Some, however, question the practice of blocking ads by looking at them through the lenses of net neutrality. The so-called net neutrality rules say that all online data (meaning pesky ads) should get identical treatment.

Just as a reminder, browsers with embedded ad-blocking options include but are not limited to Brave and Opera. Other browsers, such as Google Chrome, can easily block ads by adding specific extensions.

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