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Ad Blocking Losing Steam in EU-3

Adoption slowing to single digits in France, Germany and UK

Like internet users most everywhere, those in the France, Germany and the UK commonly express a desire to live without digital advertising. Studies show they’ve acted on it too, with ad blocking adoption in all three higher than the global average. But peak adoption appears to have passed, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast for ad blocking activity in those countries.

eMarketer predicts more than 43 million internet users in France, Germany and the UK will use ad blocking technology this year. Unsurprisingly, blocking will be most common in Germany—home to some of the first and subsequently most widely used ad blockers—with nearly 30% of internet users expected to do so this year.

Ad Blocking Users and Penetration in Germany, France and the UK, 2017 (millions and % of internet users)

France, Germany and the UK all registered higher penetration of ad blocking than the global average of 18% as of September 2016, according to Kantar TNS estimates. But the number of new ad blocking users in the UK, Germany and France has slowed considerably from the years of mid- to high double-digit growth earlier in the decade. In Germany, new user uptake will moderate to just to 8.8% this year and 7.4% in 2018, eMarketer expects. Likewise, France and the UK will both see growth rates of around 10% this year and about 8% next year.

There is a factor, however, that could see ad blocking adoption regain the speed it had just a few years ago: an easily installed mobile ad blocking solution. To date, only minorities of smartphone users in France, Germany and the UK have integrated ad blocking technology into those devices. But services like a rumored forthcoming version of Google’ Chrome mobile browser with a built-in ad blocking solution could reignite ad blocker uptake.

“Mobile ad blocking in the West has lagged developing nations in the East, but technological changes could trigger a surge in Western Europe,” said eMarketer senior analyst Bill Fisher, co-author of the report “Ad Blocking in France, Germany and the UK: User Numbers Still Rising as Publishers Explore New Tactics.”

“Mobile web browsers often block ads by default in the East, as in China. That’s not yet the case in Western Europe, but things are changing fast. And if an in-app ad blocking solution were to come to the fore, mobile ad blocking could take off in a big way, as the majority of mobile time is spent in-app in Western Europe,” Fisher said.

Age appears to be playing in role in slowing adoption.

In all three countries, the tendency among adults to block ads declines in direct correlation with rising age. This year, for example, nearly half of the youngest adults in all three countries will use an ad blocker, eMarketer predicts, but only about a quarter of adults ages 45 to 54, fewer than a fifth of those ages 55 to 64, and only one in 10 internet users ages 65 or older will do.

As adoption among the younger groups most likely to turn to ad blockers drops as a consequence of already relatively widespread use among that cohort, the slack from that group’s adoption drop-off is unlikely to be taken up by older internet users.

eMarketer analysts Karin von Abrams and Bill Fisher talk about ad blocking in Western Europe, which countries block ads the most and what media owners can do about it, in the latest episode of Behind the Numbers.

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