Once Ubiquitous, Computer Ad Blockers on the Decline

Black Facts.com

In what’s likely a boon for publishers, a new survey shows software that blocks ads while you’re using the internet is becoming less popular on desktop computers, according to a new survey of users in the United States and Europe.

Fewer respondents said they used ad blocking software in 2020 compared with four years ago.

The study found 41% of respondents in the U.S. said they used an ad blocker in 2020 compared with 52% in 2016. In the U.K., the use of ad blockers declined by 11% in four years.

The study was conducted by AudienceProject, a Danish technology company that produces marketing and advertising platforms.

“From 2016 to 2020, the share of the online population using ad blockers has decreased across all countries,” AudienceProject’s chief product officer Rune Werliin wrote.
Fewer people using ad blockers could be a boon for publishers, some of whom require visitors to turn off their ad blockers before viewing their websites. But if ad blocker users are migrating from desktop to mobile, it just shifts the problem from once place to another, Marty Krátký-Katz, the CEO of Blockthrough, which helps publishers make money despite users blocking ads.
“If you’re a publisher and 30% of your users are using ad blockers, that means you can’t monetize 30% of your audience,” Krátký-Katz said.

The decline in desktop ad-blocking is happening at a “relatively slow pace,” Krátký-Katz said, while mobile ad blocking is rapidly increasing.

“The battleground of the adblock wars has shifted to mobile,” a Blockthrough report released earlier this year said. “Mobile is driving a rapid expansion in the population of the Internet, and a large portion of these people are starting out with browsers that block ads by default.”

The decrease can mainly be attributed to a decline in desktop computer use, said industry experts.

“Desktop ad blocking usage has definitely hit a bit of a plateau,” said Ben Williams, director of advocacy at Eyeo, which owns the popular Adblock Plus software. “I don’t think it’s because people are using ad blockers less, per se. Rather it’s because people are using desktop less.”

By the end of 2019 at least 527 million people were using mobile browsers that blocked ads by default, a 64% increase from December 2016, the report said. That’s more than twice as many as the 236 million people were blocking ads on desktop, which represents a 16% decline from December 2016, according to the report.

Mobile browsers that block ads by default include UC Browser, Brave, Opera Mini and Adblock Browser. Several others have opt-in adblocking: Safari, Samsung Internet, Microsoft Edge and Firefox.

The AudienceProject study also found that ad blocking was more prominent among men than women. In the U.S., 49% of respondents said they used an ad blocker compared with 33% of women.

Part of the reason for the gender gap may be that tech enthusiasts and gamers, who lean male, tend to use ad blockers more. “Ad block users are still overrepresented by this group,” AudienceProject’s marketing and communications manager Martin Kokholm said in an email.

The survey was conducted online in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland with 14,000 respondents.

(Edited by Matthew Cooper and Allison Elyse Gualtieri.)

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