Nearly a third (30%) of British web users will have installed adblockers by 2017 as the practice becomes an epidemic, eMarketer has warned.
The new report predicts that 14.7 million Brits will be using the software that strips advertising from web pages.
The use of ad blocking software has more than doubled since 2014, according to the study that claims the technology has become a “very real issue” for online publishers and advertisers.
The study indicates that around 10.9 million people in the U.K. block online ads, working out at 20.5 percent of all Internet users in the country.
This compares to just 10 percent of Internet users two years ago, while eMarketer’s forecasts predict this proportion will rise to 27 percent in 2017.
“There’s no doubting that ad blocking is now a very real issue for advertisers,” said eMarketer senior analyst Bill Fisher. “Next year, over a quarter of the people they’re trying to reach will be willfully making themselves unreachable.
“The good news is that numbers like this have forced those within the industry to think long and hard about what it is that they need to do better in order that this practice doesn’t become an epidemic.”
The use of ad blockers, such as AdBlock and AdBlock Plus, used to be seen as the preserve of the tech-savvy, however intrusive adverts have pushed the software into mainstream use.
A blogpost by eMarketer that was published alongside the study blames the rise of ad blockers on “deep consumer dissatisfaction” with how online advertising has been allowed to impinge upon people’s online activities.
Industry comment: “Putting monetisation at the expense of the user”
Antti Pasila, CCO and Founder at Kiosked, said: “One of the biggest changes we have seen in recent months is that ad blocking is now mainstream news, with eMarketer predicting that by 2017, almost 30% of UK web users will use an ad blocker. In light of the widespread uptake by consumers, we are witnessing a significant amount of funding going into adtech companies trying to address this problem.
“But the real problem is that no one is addressing the core issue: Why users are turning to ad blockers in the first place. The reason being that publishers often put monetisation at the expense of the user, leading them to use ad blockers for a better viewing experience. One of the most important things that the industry needs to wake up to, in order to wipe out ad blockers, is to treat the root cause of the issue. Publishers need to put user experience ahead of quick monetisation wins.
“Two key aspects of a successful ad impression include the ad actually getting seen by a user and being relevant either contextually or behaviourally. By positioning ads in key places through a transparent platform, publishers will create a much better overall user experience and go some way to making ad blockers extinct.
“Put consumers at the core of their campaign”
Richard Robinson, a former director at Google, and currently EMEA MD at Turn, said: “While it is discouraging for the industry to be hit with the prediction that around 30% of Britons will be blocking their ads by the end of the year, this report brings about some important home truths.
“The way the web has evolved, consumers mostly expect to access content for free, and sometimes without advertising, but many have yet to appreciate that free content is primarily funded by advertising revenue.
“However, as the saying goes – every cloud has a silver lining. Brands who put consumers at the core of their campaign by building out first-party data and utilising the insights it can provide, will develop more relevant advertising that better resonates with desired audiences.”
“Overwhelmed with cheap, untargeted and invasive programmatic advertising”
Richard Lack, Director of Sales EMEA at Gigya.said: “For a typical European publisher, ad blockers are now used by 27 per cent of all visitors. Despite there being countermeasures being available which allow publishers to overcome such technology, this doesn’t solve anything. The real issue is that in the last five years the marketplace has been overwhelmed with cheap, untargeted and invasive programmatic advertising. Ad blockers are a natural grass roots response to this issue because users are not being able to enjoy the content they are looking for.
“2016 will be the year we see a huge consolidation in the programmatic ad space, especially those platform vendors or ad networks which rely on generally inaccurate third party data. It will also be the year when publishers begin to shore up their revenues against the cost per mille (CPM) erosion brought about by loss of control of their ad inventories to programmatic networks. Content publishers must tackle this problem, thinking about ad relevancy and user experience on their mobile and web properties.
“If a publisher understands its customers’ preferences based on first-party identity data, and applies these insights to target its advertising inventory, then these campaigns will yield higher CPMs, removing the need to acquiesce to invasive ad formats. Users will be delivered a much more enjoyable experience and may not feel an urgent need to install ad blockers in the first place.”