It comes as no surprise that the habit of blocking ads has become increasingly popular in the past few years. Global use of ad-blocking software has grown by 41 percent from 2014 to 2015, resulting in a whopping 198 million active monthly users of these browser extensions.
According to a recent report published by PageFair and Adobe on the cost of ad blocking, so far this year the global revenue loss due to blocked advertising has been $21.8 billion and is expected to go over $41 billion in 2016. In the United States itself, 16 percent of the online population blocks its ads. That number growing by 48 percent this past year now stands at an estimated total of 45 million monthly active blockers.
That's big if a sizable chunk of your revenue comes from advertising, which it does for most traditional publishing business models. Google Chrome, specifically, tends to house most ad-blocking extensions, reaching 126 million average monthly active users as of this year. Ironic, given the fact that Google's primary business comes from online advertising.
Blocking behavior also tends to be somewhat industry specific. Frequent visitors to gaming sites are far more likely to block ads (26.5 percent) when compared with visitors to health (5.4 percent), charity (4.9 percent), or government and legal (2.5 percent) sites. But this could also be a function of the pure bulk of advertising that drives these particular types of sites. Ad blocking behavior on websites is a function of audience demographics, the report notes. "Websites that cater to young, technically savvy, or more male audiences are significantly worse aﬀected."
The report also says that although a large portion of online browsing takes place on mobile devices – about 38 percent as of the second quarter of 2015) – mobile ad-blocking is still not as sophisticated as it could be, accounting for only 1.6 percent of ad block traffic on the PageFair network so far this year.
However, this is starting to change drastically, with the rise of mobile ad-blocking browser plug-ins, the most recent being Apple's new iOS 9 allowing third-party ad blocking tools.
Advertising and original content have often – much more now than ever before – shared a troubled relationship with one another. Some marketers are rushing to find ways to make ads seem more like curated content and less like distractions, which is becoming an especially important issue for millennials browsing the web.