Survey shows US ad-blocking usage is 40 percent on laptops, 15 percent on mobile

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Some in the industry argue that ad-blocking is motivated primarily by user experience issues (page speed, data usage) rather than by consumer ad-aversion. However, a new report (registration required) from AdBlock Plus and Global Web Index argues that ad avoidance is the core issue for most ad blockers.

The data come from a survey of over 1,000 US internet users. Roughly 40 percent of all respondents said they have used an ad blocker in the past month. However, most of that is on laptops and desktop computers. Among those using ad blockers, 22 percent were doing so on mobile devices. (According to PageFair, mobile ad blocking is significantly higher in Asia.)

Low levels of mobile ad blocking in the US usage may be a function of ignorance. A slight majority of US internet users are unaware of the potential to block ads on mobile devices. The greatest levels of awareness are among those under 35.

Ad blocking skews much more heavily male than female, nearly 60-40. And the highest concentration of ad blocking is apparently among those 25 to 34, even though those in the 16 to 24 age category have higher levels of awareness of ad-blocking software.

As mentioned, the industry has taken comfort in some prior survey data showing that page/ad load times were a primary factor in ad blocking. Part of Google’s motivation in creating AMP for ads is to create faster-loading ads.

The AdBlock Plus survey shows, however, that page-load time and battery drain are not as prominent as ad-blocking users’ desire to avoid advertising itself: 47 percent of the smartphone owners in the survey agreed with the statement “I would prefer to block all ads completely on my mobile device.”

Mobile users appear to dislike interstitial ads in particular, which interrupt access to content.

According to PageFair, more than 600 million devices globally were running ad-blocking software as of December 2016. A majority (62 percent) of those globally were mobile devices.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.


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