A Deeper Look at Mobile Ad Blockers
Date: May 25, 2016
Mobile isn’t the future of advertising, it’s the present. The rapid rise of mobile surprised everyone, including the experts in Silicon Valley. So it’s no surprise that many advertisers are just now getting comfortable with mobile advertising, or that mobile is increasingly viewed as a “cost of entry” marketing tactic. Or that, like all things digital, the mobile advertising marketplace is subject to sudden, unexpected change.
At the Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona this February, one of the most intense conversations focused on two European wireless carriers who have recently begun blocking mobile ads at the network level . Ad blockers are a persistent marketing challenge, but the ability to block ads at this level threatens to disrupt the current digital marketing ecosystem as we know it.
The good news is that no US wireless carrier has signed on for total ad blocking. But ad blocking is very much present at a user-level, and must be taken into account by marketers. Let’s take a look at the current state of mobile ad blocking in America.
Mobile Ad Blocking
There are two ways users can block ads on their mobile devices. The first uses a web browser with a plug-in or browser extension. Many web browsers have built-in plug-ins or extensions that can block ads. A user simply adjusts their settings to enable the ad blocker. The second ad-blocking method involves downloading an ad-blocking app. A variety of mobile ad-blocking apps are available through a phone or tablet’s app store and are typically inexpensive or free.
Apple made news in October when their iOS 9 operating system allowed users to download ad-blocking apps, while the system’s default browser app, Safari, included ad blocking extensions as well. Why did Apple’s blocking options draw so much attention? Safari is currently used by 32% of mobile users and is second only to Google Chrome in popularity .
Mobile Ad Blocking Adoption
Ad blocker adoption breaks down strongly by age group, and worldwide stats show that mobile users between 16 and 34 are more likely to use an ad blocker than those in the 35-64 range . In the US, it is estimated that 37% of mobile users currently employ an ad blocker . Another 42% say that they haven’t blocked mobile ads yet but are interested in doing so in the future. That means a whopping 80% of mobile users could be using ad blockers sooner rather than later. It all adds up to a very disturbing scenario for mobile advertisers.
Implications for Marketers
Besides hoping that no US mobile carriers begin blocking ads at the network level, there are things marketers can to deal proactively with both desktop and mobile ad blocking . It’s essential to know your audience and where they fall in the range of adoption in order to make smart tactical decisions. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Providing ads and content that users don’t find disruptive may aid in slowing ad blocker adoption. And of course, you will have to stay informed as the situation continues to evolve.
Having a trusted marketing partner can help you navigate this confusing landscape and ensure that all of your marketing tactics are optimized to their fullest potential. We can help! Contact us and one of our multi-media experts will help you refine your marketing efforts to meet your goals.
1. Gryta, Thomas “Battle Heats Up Over Mobile Ad Blocking” Wall Street Journal, 24 Feb. 2016
2. “Mobile/Tablet Top Browser Share Trend” NetMarketShare. Accessed 14 April 2015.
3. eMarketer “Mobile Users Worldwide Who Use a Mobile Ad Blocker”
4. Mander, Jason “37% of mobile users are blocking ads” 25 Jan. 2016
5. Pangal, Shringar “Ad Blockers: Tired Hype, or Real Threat?” 4 Nov. 2015
5. Doris, Jameson, “Mobile Ad Blocking is Rising Among Millennials” 2 Mar. 2016