Programmatic Lunch

22 Per Cent of Smartphone Users Blocking Mobile Web Ads

Alex Spencer

PageFair Ad Block Landscape

PageFair's diagram of the current mobile ad blocking landscape



419m people – 22 per cent of the world’s 1.9bn smartphone users – are blocking ads on the mobile web, according to a report from PageFair.

Notably, that figure doesn't include content blocking apps or in-app blockers, but PageFair believes that browsers account for the vast majority of mobile ad blocking.

Despite triggering the mobile ad blocker panic when they were introduced last year, the actual impact of iOS blocker apps like Crystal and Adblock Plus seems to be minimal. These apps total 4.5m downloads global, a small fraction of the browser blockers, and PageFair estimates that no more than two per cent of iOS users in the US have blocking apps installed.

Meanwhile, downloads of mobile browsers that block ads by default grew 90 per cent during 2015. It's worth noting, though, that while blocking is the default setting, this doesn't mean that every single one of the 408m users of blockers have this feature turned on.

PageFair identified 45 ad blocking browsers across iOS and Android, but a single app dominates: UC Browser, owned by Alibaba. In its various forms, this Chinese browser accounted for four of the top five most downloaded between December 2014 and March 2016.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, China is leading the way on ad blocker adoption. In March 2016, the country has 159m monthly active users of blocking browsers – more than a third of the global total by itself – followed by India (122m) and Indonesia (38m).

Across Asia-Pacific, 36 per cent of smartphone users are blocking mobile web ads, considerably higher than the global average of 22 per cent. The region accounts for 55 per cent of smartphone users, but 93 per cent of ad blocker usage.

In the West, meanwhile, ad blocking is still a much smaller concern, with 14m monthly active users of ad blocking browsers in North America and Europe combined. Just 2.7 per cent of European smartphone owners have one installed, and a mere 0.9 per cent in North America.