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The use of ad-blocking software among consumers in the UK is far from reaching epidemic proportions, but it’s becoming a more common habit. A July 2015 study from the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK), conducted by YouGov, found that 15% of adults in Great Britain used ad-blocking software. Meanwhile, a February 2015 study from Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, with polling again carried out by YouGov, indicated that almost 40% of UK internet users used such software.
One thing that both studies illustrated quite clearly, though, was that the use of ad blockers on mobile devices was much less of a thing. The Reuters study indicated that just 7% of UK internet users had installed and used such software on a mobile phone, vs. 34% who had done so on a desktop or laptop device. The IAB UK study found that among those who had installed and used this kind of software, only 19% did so on mobiles, vs. a much larger 46% who had done so on desktop PCs and a massive 80% who had done so on laptops.
There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is that blocking ads on mobile hasn’t always been easy. For example, Google has routinely banned such software from its Play store, stating that it violates its rule that apps in its store mustn’t interfere with other apps.
However, Apple recently announced that its next iteration of iOS would enable developers to more easily implement such software. Meanwhile, there was furor across Europe in May this year when an Israeli firm, Shine, indicated that mobile operators were poised to roll out its ad-blocking software on devices using their networks.
So it looks like blocking ads on mobile is about to get a whole lot easier, which should be of huge concern to the UK advertising fraternity. eMarketer estimates that almost half of all UK digital ad spending in 2016 will go to the mobile channel. With so much money invested in mobile, the rise of ad blockers could have wide-ranging implications—not just for the advertising community, but also for those digital publishers that run on wafer-thin margins and rely so heavily on ad-supported models.
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