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What is Ad Blocking on Mobile?

Have you ever experienced an aggressive ad while browsing the web? You’re not alone.

With each passing day, more and more people are downloading ad blocking software. According to a recent report, there are some 615M devices blocking ads globally, 380M (or 62%) of them on mobile alone.

As its name suggests, ad blocking is a technology used to prevent the download or display of advertising on the internet.

Data from App Annie shows that throughout the last year, AdBlock, the top ranked ad blocking app for iOS, has consistently remained in the top 3 spots within the utilities category on Apple’s App Store. Downloads of the top 5 ad-blocking apps in the United Kingdom more than doubled in the past year across the Google Play and Apple App Store combined.

What Factors Have Contributed Towards Growth in Mobile Ad Blocking?

A major catalyst in the development of mobile ad blockers came in 2015, when Apple announced that iOS 9 would allow users to download ad blocking extensions through the mobile Safari Browser. The hype that succeeded the announcement raised the profile of mobile ad blocking tenfold. Today, in the US and the UK it is reported that at least 80% of the population is aware of what ad blocking is.

Interruptive ad formats and virus malware concerns are the leading reasons given for adblock usage. As pointed out by Mary Meeker in her 2017 Internet Trends Report, large developing markets, as well as the desire for a reduction in page load times are some additional driving forces behind the growth in mobile adblock usage.

Who Pays for Blocked Ads?

The main function of ad blocking software is to stop ads from being served, which limits viewability for advertisers and eCPMs and revenue for publishers. This means that publishers are not being paid for visits to their site from any browser or device where an ad blocker has been installed. At the end of the day, ads sustain businesses - blocked ads cost online publishers real revenue.

If online advertisers fail to find an effective strategy to counter ad blocking, it is estimated that digital publishers stand to lose over $27B by 2020. These figures are forcing publishers to improve the quality of ads - leading to a better user experience.

How Do Ad Blockers Impact App Developers?

Fortunately for app developers, in-app ad blocking is a non-issue, since the app world is a closed ecosystem. That means app publishers will always be able to monetize their apps, no matter how popular mobile ad blocking becomes.

Additionally, ads served in-app today are often opt-in and rewarded, which unlike many online ad formats, contributes to a positive user experience. By serving opt-in ads, app publishers ensure that users feel that they have choice over the ads they are interacting with - mitigating one of the top causes of mobile ad blocking.

Adobe reported, at their State of Digital Advertising Summit, that personalized content is continuously improving ad relevance. With the rising popularity of in-app interactive ads and playable ads, content is becoming more personalized, and therefore more enjoyable for users.

Should we be worried?

The slow yet steady growth in the use of ad blocking on mobile devices is indicative of one trend: ads must be improved. This should be taken as a wake up call for the industry.

Ads need to be user friendly, less aggressive, and most importantly: opt-in. Interactive and rewarded in-app ad formats are already improving the overall ad experience. It is time for the industry to come to a point where the ads they are serving are beneficial and not aggressive, and this is why new ad formats, like interactive and rewarded ads, are the way of the future.

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