Good news, buyers: Ad blocking may have peaked
Evidence: The practice is on the decline in Germany
November 29, 2016
Right at the top of the list of media buying worries over the past two years has been ad blocking.
It’s gone from nebulous threat to something more sinister – reports out earlier this year said ad blocking would rise to an alarming 37 percent by 2020.
But what if those fears are way overblown?
After months of panic, there is new evidence ad blocking will not become as prevalent as it initially appeared.
The first piece of this evidence comes from Germany, an extremely tech-savvy market that tends to set trends rather than follow them. What happens in Germany often happens, later, in the United States.
The latest research from Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft, a digital media trade group, suggests ad blockers in Germany have peaked.
Every quarter, BDW measures the percentage of ads blocked on desktop. In third quarter, blockers shot down 19.1 percent of ads, down by nearly two percentage points versus second quarter and the fourth straight quarter that number has dropped.
“This signals that ad blocking, while a serious problem for publishers and advertisers, may not be skyrocketing to a crisis point, but may simply simmer at current levels, never becoming a majority activity,” notes a blog post about the development by eMarketer, the online ad tracking firm.
Low mobile blocking
The second piece of evidence that ad blocking may be less of a problem than expected comes from another recent report, from Audience Project, a market research firm.
AP found that while about a quarter of UK and U.S. desktop users block ads.
But just 2 percent of those same people block ads on their smartphones.
The low percentage for mobile is significant, because, as everyone knows, the future of digital is mobile.
More than half of all internet browsing is done via mobile now, and advertising is headed in the same direction. EMarketer recently predicted that by 2019, mobile will account for one third of all U.S. ad spending.
It could be people just aren’t as mobile-savvy and will begin blocking ads as they become as adept with mobile technology as they are with desktop.
And certainly the fact that Apple only recently introduced ad blockers to iOS has impacted growth rates, though it’s been available for more than a year.
Outsized fears for ad blocking?
But while that may explain away some of mobile’s lackluster ad blocking growth, the greater possibility is ad blocking simply benefited from being the hot new thing for a time and is now undergoing an adjustment period of sorts.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t other threats to online advertising (fraud and viewability come to mind). It just may mean this isn’t the problem it first seemed to be.
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