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The rise of ad blocking has certainly made things more difficult for publishers in Australia. But recent research uncovered that while familiarity with ad blocking is on the rise, the use of ad blockers actually decreased in recent months.
Interactive Advertising Bureau Australia (IAB Australia) surveyed internet users on their perceptions and use of ad blockers in October 2016, then again in April of this year. The organization found that the use of ad blockers actually declined over that period, falling from 27% to 25%.
That’s surprising given that ad blockers allow consumers to sidestep display ads that sometimes create a cluttered user experience, and often slow the loading time of pages and apps.
But the main reason that people used an ad blocker was out of fear of getting a virus. More than one-fifth (22%) of ad blocker users named malware as the primary reason they turned on such a service. The second most popular reason was a surfeit of advertising, cited by 15% of ad blocker users.
So what could be driving internet users in Australia to actually decrease their use of ad blockers? Access to content. Nearly three in 10 (28%) of those who stopped using an ad blocker said they did so because the service prevented them from seeing content.
In other words, publishers in Australia who are tightening their paywalls or hitting users with interstitials indicating content was locked because of ad blocker use are seeing some success from those efforts.
But interestingly, one-quarter of respondents who stopped using an ad blocker cited the service slowing down their browsing as the reason. Clearly for some users, ads were not having a noticeable effect on the load times of pages.
Publishers messaging users about the impact of ad browsers also seems to have an effect on their use. A little more than one-fifth of respondents were influenced by messages asking them to turn off ad blockers.
It remains to be seen if the decline in ad blocker use in Australia is an aberration. eMarketer recently published a new forecast projecting that ad blocking user penetration in the US among internet users will increase from 27.5% this year to 30.1% in 2018.
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