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Ad blocking is a headache for just about all the players in the digital media ecosystem. The issue has risen to the forefront of many analysts’ mind due to iOS 9 making ad blocking available on many mobile devices for the first time, but US publishers and advertisers can perhaps take comfort: The country has among the lowest ad blocking rates in the world.
comScore and Sourcepoint found in June 2015 that desktop internet users in France were more likely to use ad blocking software than those in any other country studied, at 27%. Germany was No. 2 in ad blocking, at 24% of unique desktop site visitors, and Canada came in third at 16%. The US was at the bottom of the list, with just 9% of unique visitors blocking ads.
The low US rate of ad blocking held true across age groups, as well—as did most other rankings. In all countries studied, 18- to 24-year-olds were more likely to block ads than any other group. In the US, the proportion of ad blockers rose to 16.2% among this cohort, less than half the rate in France or Germany.
The US was also least likely among countries studied in July to block ads on mobile devices. A tiny 0.1% of total page views on smartphones and tablets in the US blocked ads. Mobile ad blocking rates were low in Western Europe as well. Mobile internet users in India and China were far more likely to block ads—though it was still rare.
Q1 2015 research from GlobalWebIndex also found higher rates of ad blocking in Europe. Among internet users ages 16 to 64, 29% had blocked ads on their main PC over the past month. That compared with 27% in Asia-Pacific and 26% in North America.
In June 2015 research covering the EU-5, Adobe and PageFair found that Germany had the highest rates, at 25.3% of internet users, followed by the UK, at 21.1%. That research put France at the bottom of the pile, with a comparatively low 10.3% of internet users blocking ads.
Like comScore and Sourcepoint, GlobalWebIndex found significant variation in ad blocking depending on the age of the internet user. In Q2, GlobalWebIndex also found that male internet users were 8 percentage points more likely than females to block ads.
While some patterns seem to hold true, like higher rates of ad blocking among younger users, differences in methodology make it difficult to determine which specific markets have higher or lower rates of ad blocking—though Europe does appear above average in this department.
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