AdBlockers and the future of online advertising

Autor: Affilired

El Adblocking se está convirtiendo en uno de los temas más debatidos últimamente. El número de usuarios que instalan este tipo de software aumenta día a día.

The use of Adblockers is already something popular or “mainstream”: the latest Adobe PaigFair report ( reflects an increase in its use of 41% during the past 2015, reaching up to 198 million active users.

But let’s start from the beginning:

For those unfamiliar with the term Adblockers, these are plugins or software that, once installed on your computer, block ads displayed while you browse the internet. This not only makes the pages load faster, but also improves the user’s privacy by not allowing tracking cookies to be installed on the computer or smartphone and even protects them from malicious ads whose real purpose is to install malware.

But unfortunately, when you install this type of software all ads are blocked. You will have the option to allow certain websites to show you ads if you consider these pages worthy of your trust. But, let’s be honest: usually the average user will not even consider this option.

Blocking ads is not something new: some of us already did it in the 90’s by blocking the loading of certain domains on our computers. Those were the days of 56k modems, when pages took more than 2 minutes to load, so you had to do something to be able to browse web pages properly.

But now things are different: with the rise of RTB and programmatic advertising, spending on display advertising is increasing by leaps and bounds, so websites end up literally flooded with advertising in an attempt by publishers to monetize (profit from) their content generation efforts.

Let’s face it: Intrusive advertising is annoying. We all get annoyed when an ad with a full-screen video blocks our screen and prevents us from accessing the content of a website or, even worse, when it prevents us from being able to return to the previous page.

And then AdBlockers become massive.

It’s something that had to happen. Just like that. With virtually no self-regulation by advertisers and publishers, and with this excess of ads appearing everywhere and interrupting users’ browsing, it is only natural that AdBlockers have become massive.

And it always happens the same way: users with more technical knowledge start using them and then word-of-mouth makes it popular.

According to PageFair, today adblocking penetration in the USA is 15%, 21% in the UK, 16% in Spain and in Poland it is already 35%.

In other words, ad blocking is no longer limited to a group of “self-taught geeks”. The use of AdBlockers is penetrating very quickly and they are as easy and quick to install as any other software.

In fact, based on data provided by GlobalWebIndex, as many as one-third of Millennials are already blocking ads:

 Q2 2015 data provided by GlobalWebIndex reflects a smaller split globally. It concludes that 34% of internet users aged 16-24 and 31% of users whose age ranges from 25-35 block ads.


Those who are the future of the Internet are saying it very clearly: Stop bothering me like this!

Let’s not forget that what happens in the visitor’s browser happens precisely because the user allows it. It’s not just a matter of whether or not the user can choose to visit a web page. It is that whatever happens, the decision is in his hands. The user will decide whether to allow his device to execute something or not.

The web may mirror our offline lives, but it certainly has different rules and has changed the way markets are evolving and communicating with customers. It is now a two-way communication.

How does this affect publishers and advertisers?

The normal thing would be to think that if a user doesn’t want ads, it’s okay to block them. But not everything is as simple as it seems.

Many of the websites we visit depend entirely on advertising to pay their bills. And publishers are clearly losing money as they show fewer ads, which means fewer clicks, fewer impressions and consequently less revenue.

Of course, neither advertisers nor publishers are happy with this new situation.

So shouldn’t it be illegal?

Ermmm… and who cares? What I mean is: even though users are getting “free” content, they feel they are being abused and that gives them the right to block ads.

If there is one thing we should have learned from Napster, Torrent and the like, it is that if the internet user feels that he is being abused, he will not care about the legal issue and will look for a way to find what he wants at the price he thinks he deserves. And this search will continue until he finds a solution that offers him content at a fair price, as iTunes for mp3’s or Netflix for movies is already offering.

In the Internet Age users have the power of choice. Markets have changed and simply displaying messages is no longer useful.

However, if you still think this topic should be discussed on a legal level, then you should know that the German Courts have already regulated it and, at least in Germany, it is already legal.

“Acceptable Ads” for Adblocking

Both Adblock users (at least most of them) and Adblocking developers agree that certain ads are considered acceptable and therefore should not be blocked.

But what ads are considered acceptable? In a nutshell: they are those ads that do not intrude on the user’s experience while browsing the web and whose content is honest.

This seems simple, but this statement implies a double reading since “someone” must review the ads and make sure they comply with the established requirements. And this is where Adblock Programs for Acceptable Ads come to the rescue! Advertising platforms have the possibility to pay a fee to have their ads reviewed,accepted and included in a whitelist to avoid being blocked.

Mmm… indeed… everyone deserves to be paid for their work. But in the end it seems that everything is in a kind of “grey zone”, isn’t it?

And what can we do as agencies, advertisers or publishers?

Self-regulation. That’s the key.

Whatever your role in this industry, make sure you never pay or get paid to show intrusive, annoying or aggressive ads.

If you are an advertiser: make sure that your ads are “correct”, that they are not displayed unless requested by the user, that sound is disabled by default and that the initial download size is less than 100kb (and if it can be 60kb, even better!).

If you are a publisher: stay away from such ads as you will end up losing visitors. You can try to identify Adblocking users (yes, you can find scripts for this on Google) and suggest them (or even block them, as Forbes does) to disable it on your website. Personally I don’t consider this option as it seems somewhat rude to me.

This is going to be a long road unless a new player steps in.

Frankly I consider self-regulation to be the most honest approach. After all, would you want your brand or website to be remembered for being annoying?

You will find more information about it here: