For advertisers, ideally, advertising is supposed to shout at audience and grab their attention in the best way in order to make people to make a good association with the product/service on offer. However, most of us, as consumers, would admit that advertising if often times annoying. Just think about your own Internet experience—pop-ups interrupt the browsing experience at every turn, creepy remarketing stalks you wit the same display ad everywhere you go, auto-playing videos embarrass you in the public, or you cannot even read a news article without having to scroll past a dozen ads and accidentally clicking on one of those ads. Consequently, people who want uninterrupted and smooth Internet browsing experience start to use ad-blocking tools.
The threat of disappearing advertisement revenues from ad-blocking services causes plenty of anxiety for publishers and advertisers in 2017. Some researchers estimate that if ad-blocking rate maintain at its current level, publishers and advertisers will lose $35 billion by 2020. Let us look at some statistics about ad blocking in order to understand the seriousness of such lost. In 2015, ad-blocking services have already led to nearly $22 billion in lost advertising revenue. Adblock Plus, whish is the world’s most popular ad blocking extension, has been downloaded over 500 million times globally. Global ad-blocking services have grown by 30 percent in 2016 driven by increasing usage on desktop as well as mobile. According to the study conducted by PageFair and Adobe, Asia-Pacific region accounts for majority of mobile ad blocking with 94 percent of all 380 million users. In terms of ad-blocking uses demographic, the biggest ad blocking users by age group are 25-34 year-old at 23 percent. Also, the average proportion of ad blockers in each age group—18-24, 35-44, 45-54, and 55-64 year-old—is within 20 percent. In other words, ad-blocking is mainstream in almost every age.
Apparently, ad blocking becomes a major threat to digital media companies that depend on advertising for revenue. Interestingly, ad blocking becomes even more common with Apple’s desktop and mobile operating system since its system framework makes it significantly easier for developers to create an-blocking software. In August 2016, Facebook tried to block people from using ad-blocking software on its social network. Andrew Bosworth, vice president for Facebook’s ads and business platform, said, “Disruptive ads are an industry problem, and the rise of ad blockers is a strong signal that people do not want to see them…but ad blockers are a really bad solution.” What Andrew says is partially true that 64 percent of people say advertisements today are annoying and intrusive and 54 percent of people think that ads are disruptive, according to the survey. However, whether ad blocking is the best solution for poor-quality advertisement is still controversial. For instance, IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau)—an agency that is comprised of more than 650 media and technology companies that are responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital advertising and marketing campaigns—accuses that, “Ad blocking is wrong…it is robbery, plain and simple—and extortionist scheme that exploits consumers disaffection and risks distorting the economics of democratic capitalism.”As a result, Adblock Plus starts selling “acceptable” advertisements: instead of removing all ads from websites, it tries to remove the bad ads that are less intrusive and less annoying. According to the operations and communications for Adblock Plus, Ben Williams, this new ‘Acceptable Ads initiative’ is supposed to be a decent compromise between users and advertisers.