In the UK, Ad Blocking May Be Overhyped, but an Issue Nonetheless - eMarketer
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In the UK, Ad Blocking May Be Overhyped, but an Issue Nonetheless

Ad blocking rates have risen in recent years largely because people find much digital advertising intrusive and annoying

December 2, 2016 | Advertising & Marketing

The UK’s digital advertising market is performing well in revenue terms. Several trends are behind steadily growing digital ad investment, from mobile’s increasing influence, to video’s growing impetus, to social media’s far-reaching sway. And despite concerns around Brexit, the digital ad market is expected to remain resilient, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “State of the UK Digital Ad Market 2016: Digital Advertising Gets Bigger, but Not Necessarily Better” (eMarketer PRO customers only).

UK Ad Blocking Users and Penetration, 2014-2017 (millions, % change and % of internet users)

eMarketer forecasts that UK advertisers will spend £9.64 billion ($14.73 billion) on digital ad formats in 2016—more than on any other media format by some distance. And while most other media will see small increases in ad spending this year, digital will register double-digit growth of 12.0%.

Last year marked the first time that digital ad spending accounted for over half of all media ad expenditures in the UK, and this year digital’s share will swell to 55.0% of total media ad investment, eMarketer predicts. By the end of the forecast period, digital will account for almost two-thirds of the total.

The picture of a healthy UK digital advertising market—in terms of spending, at least—hasn’t necessarily played out in terms of press coverage this year. While ad investment has risen, so have negative media mentions. Bad or intrusive ads have led to rising ad blocking rates among consumers. Marketers, meanwhile, are struggling to come to terms with the best ways to measure digital ad performance, with some measurement missteps—like Facebook’s video view-time overstatement—making it into the mainstream media.

The fact that ad blocking has become such a hot topic in 2016 does seem to suggest that digital advertising may have to face up to some fundamental issues. Even when digital ads aren’t being blocked there are question marks over their efficiency. The measurability of digital advertising can be viewed as both a blessing and a curse. A lot of energy has gone into understanding how to use data to better target digital advertising, but as data has come increasingly to the fore, questions have arisen about the lack of focus on good creative by the digital ad industry. This section looks at some of the key digital advertising trends to have made the headlines in 2016.

There are numerous reasons for this rise in ad blocking behavior. However, the primary issues that consumers cite about digital advertising tend to relate to the annoyance factor—UK consumers find digital ads intrusive and disruptive.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “State of the UK Digital Ad Market 2016: Digital Advertising Gets Bigger, but Not Necessarily Better.”

eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports per year, which are only available to eMarketer PRO customers.

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