ADBLOCKING: A REVERSIBLE TREND?

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Adblocking, a process that empowers internet users to throw off online advertising, increases globally, both on mobile and on desktop. This practice, in the past reserved for the most technical and the most informed of us, is now becoming a mainstream habit. Thus, it is necessary for online advertising stakeholders to learn about this trend’s magnitude as well as its effects for advertisers.

GEOGRAPHICAL PARTICULARITIES

According to a recent study drove by Kantar TNS “Connected for Life” (February 2017), European countries recorded the most important adblocker penetration rate (number of internet users who have downloaded an adblocker compared to the total country digital population). Poland culminates at the top of the ranking with a 54% penetration rate while the European average is set at 30%. France is slightly above the European average with a 34% penetration rate.

According to the sample analyzed by Kantar, including the seven most developed Asian countries (Australia, Hong-Kong, Japan, New Zeeland, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan), the Asian continent is widely less impacted by the phenomenon with only 16% of the digital population who have downloaded an adblocker.

 Pourcentage

PRACTICE DEMOCRATIZATION

If a number of continents are less affected, the number of adblock downloads is undeniably widely growing. In the United-States, one of the most important online advertising market, adblockers’ penetration rate increased from 11,9% in 2014 to 17,7% in 2016 on both desktop and laptop. And on mobile the penetration rate increased from 2.3% in 2014 to 5,9% in 2016. Although these numbers suggest that the usage of adblockers is closely correlated to the maturity of the advertising market in each countries , it is still important to take into account several other parameters to fairly evaluate the situation.

ADBLOCKING AND CONNECTIVTY RATE

The internet consumption habits play an important role in the rise of the phenomenon. Europe is a more assiduous internet consumer cluster than other continents’ populations. During the Kantar study period, it was noticed that 95% of the Luxembourg digital population was connected at least once a week, and 92% for the Netherlands and Norway. By comparison, only 77% of the US population was connected at least once a week and 30% for India. Thus, there would be a positive correlation between connectivity rate and adblocks’ install.

 Conectivty rate

THREE MAIN MOTIVATIONS…

Almost half of the 51 125 internet users from de 34 countries aged between 16 and 64 years old interviewed by GlobalWebIndex in 2016 declared that one of the principal motivation to install adblockers was to avoid intrusive online advertising. In other words advertising that  obstruct the internet user web navigation. 33% of the respondents expressed a technical motivation, which means they install adblock to accelarate internet pages’ load time. Lastly, the motivation to protect the digital intimacy is mentionned, in other words the willingness to limit personal data exploitation.

…SHARED BY THE 18-24 YEAR-OLD POPULATION

We considered there is a relevant geographical differences with adblocks penetration, but we have to admit the difference is demographic too. Actually, the internet users aged 0-11 years old are demographics that are less likely to download adblockers. On the contrary, population aged 18-24 is by far the most important adblocker consumer. In the US, almost 40,5% of the digital population aged 18-24 is equiped with such plug-ins, all devices combined. According to eMarketer, they will be more and more numerous, with an adblocker penetration rate forecast of 51% by 2018.

INEXISTANT LOSS FOR ADVERTISER

If we can’t deny the adblocker download number growth, we must be careful not to overestimate adblockers’ negative impact for advertisers. At most, that represents a small advertising space loss, because none of the ads blocked by an adblocker is paid by the advertiser. Indeed, the ads are not accounted as viewed because the adblocker prevents the possibility for adservers to call ads. Thus, only publishers suffer losses because of this phenomenon.

TOWARDS A REVERSIBLE TREND

Current estimates don’t take into account the evolution of potential online advertising formats. Adblock usage should be scaled down in the near future considering publishers are more than ever motivated to make changes to reverse the trend. Some websites have started an educational process to inform internet users of digital economy rules and the fundamental role played by advertising. Such initiatives possibly generate awareness and limit the “passager clandestin” effect, the instance  where an internet user benefits from online content for free. Furthermore, by going to premium display and in-stream, in other words by reducing the number of ads on the same page, and by fostering smart consumer targeting, the intrusiveness feeling nowadays linked to the online advertising would be successfully monitored.

Although adblock downloads have increased over the past five years, this trend is far from being irreversible. The online advertising ecosystem premiumization is a solution that benefits simultaneously to both parties. First internet users, because of the decrease of their feeling of intrusiveness, and secound advertisers, because of the  decrease of internet users’ repulsion towards online advertising.

With efforts from publishers to refresh their ad pressure rules, their focus on user experience, and adding on top of that their brand safety guards, inventory will be valued for what it’s really worth.

Advertisers are likely to be competing in months to come for the most premium environments available on the web, and therefore should anticipate publishers’ reevaluation of their ad inventory.