A recent article in AdWeek said that advertisers who were worried about Ad Blockers should just switch their attention to mobile, where far fewer people are installing them. This is on par with saying, if your house is on fire, just go get another one.
A survey completed by Genesis Media of 11,500 people in the United States found that nearly a quarter of respondents had ad blockers on their home or work computer, but only three percent used them on a mobile device. Therefore, it was concluded that advertisers should just shift their attention to mobile since people are more likely to see ads.
Okay, first and foremost, ad blockers could eventually become popular on mobile devices, so you’re basically looking at a temporary solution at best. In fact, the author had to update with a mea culpa, indicating that Apple was already making moves to make ad blocking on mobile easy with Safari-based extensions.
Further, according to eMarketer, there was a 70% year-over-year increase of ad blocker usage between July of 2013 and 2014. Basically, the “solution” is pushing the problem to tomorrow, and then hoping tomorrow forgets about you.
Second, although mobile device use is outpacing desktop use at greater and greater rates, most conversions are still taking place on desktops. You may have greater potential ROI from mobile, but you’ve got more actual cash from desktop. So, abandoning desktop is quite likely to cut into companies’ bottom lines right now.
Why is no one asking why people use ad blockers
The solution to the increasing prevalence of ad blockers may lie in figuring out why people install them. There are several major differences in how ads are presented on mobile devices compared to desktop, and this could be why the use of blockers is so varied.
Due to screen size limitations, there are a lot fewer banner ads and essentially no pop-ups on mobile devices, but there is a lot of native content. There’s also the fact that a lot of advertising comes through mobile apps, so those ads are probably not able to be blocked, but even then, many of those ads are native.
Further, there are a lot fewer ads that can show up on a mobile device at one time compared to on desktops. I had to install an ad blocker on my notebook because it is essentially a cheap and fairly slow device. Going to a website with a ton of ads – Forbes articles have in the neighborhood of 20 (!) – essentially makes the computer useless.
I feel guilty, and I don’t have an ad blocker on my main laptop, but the volume of ads on most websites was crippling the netbook. This doesn’t happen on mobile websites or with mobile apps.
Another indication that the aggressiveness of ads being displayed may have an impact on ad block usage is that the sites most likely to have their ads blocked are Gaming and Newsgroup / Forum sites, at 26.5 and 24.2 percent, respectively. This is attributed to the fact that these users tend to be more savvy, and therefore more likely to install ad blockers.
However, although still pretty high up on the list of types of sites that are blocked, only 17 percent of Internet / Technology sites have ads blocked. If the most tech savvy users were leading the charge, Internet / Technology sites should be well above Newsgroup / Forum sites. However, what Gaming and Newsgroup sites have in common is incredibly aggressive advertising.
Going back to the Genesis Media survey:
44 percent of males who’ve used ad-blocking software said they’d permit ads that are less intrusive or higher quality, compared with 26 percent of females.
According to the PageFair 2015 Ad Blocking Report, advertisers stand to lose $22 billion in revenue as a result of ad blockers. The advertising community needs to come up with a better solution to this than running to mobile.