Programmatic Lunch

UK ad blocking levels begin to stabilise

Tim Maytom

Growth in the use of ad blockers by UK consumers has slowed to single digits this year, indicating that the figure may be stabilising at around one quarter of internet users.

According to the latest forecasts from eMarketer, 12.2m people, or 22 per cent of internet users, are expected to employ ad blocking software this year, up from 20.8 per cent in 2017. The figure is expected to rise to 22.9 per cent in 2019, a far slower rate of growth than that seen earlier this decade.

While any ad blocking is a concern for publishers, the rate in the UK is relatively low compared with other Western countries; ad blocking usage is currently at 25.2 per cent in the US, 28.7 per cent in France, and 32 per cent in Germany.

eMarketer's stats define an ad blocker as an internet user of any age who accesses the web at least once per month via any device, including smartphones, that has an ad blocker enabled. Default ad blockers that are enabled automatically, such as Google Chrome's built-in filter, are not included in eMarketer's definition.

Unsuprisingly, ad blocking rates are highest among younger users, with 43 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds in the UK estimated to use an ad blocker, compare with less than 21 per cent for those aged 45 and older. While ad blocking rates on mobile are growing faster than desktop, the overall proportion remains much lower. Of those consumers using ad blocking software, 88.9 per cent will use it on desktop, while only 38 per cent employ it on smartphones.

"The growth in ad blocking users may be slowing, but that doesn't mean it's a problem to be dismissed," said Bill Fisher, senior analyst at eMarketer. "Revenues lost as a result of the practice remain substantial, so it's incumbent upon the industry to contine to improve upon the digital ad experience, with better messaging around the benefits of an ad-supported model and ultimately better ads."

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