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Report: Ad Blocking Expected to Cost Publishers $22 Billion This Year

4815205740_f342e72759_oA new report from Adobe and PageFair has given the advertising industry 22 billion reasons to clean up its act.

The NYTimes has picked up a story this morning on PageFair’s 2015 Ad Blocking Report. The report contains a lot of handwavium, but according to the Times:

Ad-blocking will lead to almost $22 billion of lost advertising revenue this year, according to the report, put together by Adobe and PageFair, a Dublin-based start-up that helps companies and advertisers recoup some of this lost revenue. That represents a 41 percent rise compared to the previous 12 months, and the levels of ad-blocking activity now top more than a third of all Internet users in some countries, particularly in Europe, the report said.

An estimated 198 million people are now using an ad blocker around the world. Around 43 million of that figure live in the US. Another 12 million live in the UK, and both populations are growing rapidly.

PageFair estimated that the number of ad blockers in use in the US rose by 48% in the past year, while UK ad blocking almost doubles (82%).

Those numbers should alarm web publishers because they are higher than the global average growth of 41%. In other words, the most valuable audience is making itself inaccessible at the fastest rate.

Luckily the penetration rate is still comparatively low. Only 15% of web users in the US also use an ad blocker (20% of Canadians and 21% of Brits do so).  That is far behind Poland and Greece, where 35% and 37% of web users are blocking adverts.

What’s even better is that the penetration has actually declined in the US. PageFair’s chart shows that the number of ad block users in the US peaked in May 2015 and then declined in June.


It’s almost as if all the talk sparked by the new ad blocking features in iOS 9 caused a brief spike in the use of ad blockers, after which many of the users went back to their old patterns.

One could see that as a positive sign, but the only conclusion I would draw is that ad blocking is in a state of flux. It’s too early to draw any conclusions based on current data, and the future is too unpredictable to make any guesses about how  things will change once iOS 9 is released.

image by Drew Coffman

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