Ad Blocking Moves into the Mainstream in the UK - eMarketer

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Ad Blocking Moves into the Mainstream in the UK

More than a quarter of UK internet users will block ads in 2017

April 20, 2016

Ad blocking is gaining ground in the UK—by the end of next year more than a quarter of internet users in the UK will be using ad blocking software, according to eMarketer’s first-ever estimates of ad blocking in the UK.

UK Ad Blocking User Penetration, by Device, 2014-2017 (% of internet users and % of population)

Ad blocking refers to installing software on an internet-connected device specifically for the purpose of preventing the advertising content of a webpage or application from being served and viewed. Once seen as the preserve of the tech-savvy, early adopters and gamers, ad blocking has now moved into the mainstream and by the end of 2017, eMarketer expects, 27.0% of internet users, or 14.7 million people will be choosing to stop digital ads on at least one of their devices.

UK Ad Blocking Users and Penetration, 2014-2017

eMarketer estimates that of the 10.9 million people who block ads, the majority (90.2%) do so on a desktop or laptop PC. Meanwhile, about 28% block ads on smartphones. (There is overlap because some users block ads on multiple devices.) One reason mobile ad blocking hasn’t expanded as much is because, up until recently, installing mobile ad blockers was a difficult process. In addition, ad blocking doesn’t yet fully work within apps—which is where people are spending more and more of their time.

UK Ad Blocking User Share, by Device, 2014-2017 (% of total)

“There’s no doubting that ad blocking is now a very real issue for advertisers. Next year, over a quarter of the people they're trying to reach will be wilfully making themselves unreachable,” said eMarketer senior analyst Bill Fisher. “The good news is that numbers like this have forced those within the industry to think long and hard about what it is that they need to do better in order that this practice doesn't become an epidemic.”

Based on its forecast of UK ad blocking trends, eMarketer has synopsized some key learnings and advice for marketers: Ad Blocking in the UK: Time to Think About the Long Game.

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