Ad Blocking: The Impact on the Digital Media Industry in Europe

The use of Ad Blocking is rising in Europe, and both advertisers and publishers are facing a big challenge since it strongly impacts their businesses. What can be done to address this threat?

Research from PageFair and Adobe shows that Ad Block usage in Europe grew by 35% in Q2 2015, with a share of Internet users using Ad Blocking software varying from 10.4% in France to 25.3% in Germany and 34.9% in Poland. Though mobile accounts for 38% of web browsing, the mobile share of Ad Blocking only represents 2%. However, this will only get bigger with the release of the iOS 9 as users are able to block all ads from their phone’s Safari web browser.

Why internet users install Ad Blocking software?

Some users find ads invasive and see several advantages in Ad Blocking software such as: experiencing a better web browsing by not being interrupted, loading web pages faster and accessing more readable content. On the other side, they are blocking ads they may be interested in.

What does it mean for advertisers and publishers?

The cost of Ad Blocking is huge for the Digital Media Industry. According to PageFair and Adobe “The estimated loss of global revenue due to blocked advertising during 2015 was $21.8B”. It also raises many questions such as: Is it the end of digital advertising as we know it today? Shall advertisers focus on other marketing channels to generate revenue? Do publishers should provide only free content to non-Ad Blocker users?

What are alternative solutions for advertisers and publishers?

As per IAB Ad blocking FAQ 2015 “The digital advertising industry must improve user experience to more closely align consumer expectations with the digital advertising format that fuel content and services.”

This could mean that native advertising will become the “new format” to tackle the Ad Blocking challenge. Because these ads match the content and format of the website, publishers invest in this strategy to deliver a better user experience and to engage their visitors by providing them with targeted and useful content. It may also encourage users to not install Ad Blocking software, as native ads are perceived as “non-intrusive”. Another alternative is to be “whitelisted” by Ad Blockers. We’ve recently seen companies paying Ad Blockers like AdBlock Plus to be mentioned on their whitelist. This allows them to continue showing ads to users, but this option has limits as it implies to pay a fee that not all companies can afford.

And finally, we also see publishers blocking their content to visitors who installed an Ad Blocker or redirecting them to a donation page.

As Internet users, we should all understand the importance of digital advertising and the economic role it plays. The best way of facing this challenge is for Ad Tech companies, publishers and advertisers to communicate effectively on the impact of Ad Blocking for the Internet users and keep innovating to find ways of delivering advertising with a great user experience.