Since the announcement that Apple would allow ad blocking software on the latest version of its operating system, it’s hard to browse the internet without stumbling across a discussion on this topic. 

The debate on how to manage the rise of ad blocking has been fierce so far.

Publishers are worried their industry will fold in on itself as the primary source of income dries up, while ad blocking consumers simply want a better user experience or are ignorant (wilfully or otherwise) about the way ‘free’ content works. 

But this post is not about putting my opinion on the matter across.

I just thought it would be interesting to collate some of the most eye-opening ad blocking stats I’ve read so that people can make their own minds up about the significance of these increasingly popular platforms.

And for more on this topic read our posts on how publishers should respond to mobile ad blocking and how the situation is likely to develop in the next few years.

15% of British adults use ad blocking software

Almost one in seven British adults are currently using ad blocking software, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK Ad Blocking Report conducted by YouGov. 

The main reason cited for blocking ads was that people found them interruptive or annoying. 

why do people use ad blocking software

Men and 18-34s most likely to block ads

The IAB report also found that men were twice as likely to block ads as women: 22% of men vs. only 9% of women. 

34% of 18-24 year olds say they block ads vs. only 19% for 25-34 year olds.

Regionally, people in Scotland and the north of England (both 19%) are most likely to be blocking ads. 

Only half of ad blockers do so to block all ads

Despite these high figures, the IAB report found that only around half (52%) of those who use ad blockers do so to prevent all ads from showing. 

12% say they use the software to block certain types of ads, while 11% only use it to block ads from certain websites. 

Less than half of British adults aware that ads fund free content

Only 44% of British adults online are aware that most websites are free thanks to advertising revenue, according to the IAB report.

Men (52%) are more likely to be aware of this than women (36%), and 18-24 year olds (59%) more so than people over 55 (36%). 

Two thirds (66%) of respondents would still prefer to access free content and have no ads, while just one in five (21%) prefers free content in return for having ads. 

Ad blocking estimated to cost publishers nearly $22bn globally in 2015

A joint report by PageFair and Adobe, titled 'The cost of ad blocking', found that the rise of this type of software costs the worldwide publishing industry nearly $22bn every year in lost revenue. 

Ad blocking grew by 41% globally in the last 12 months

In terms of ad blocking growth, the same study from PageFair and Adobe found the following:

  • UK ad blocking grew by 82% to reach 12m active users in 12 months up to June 2015.
    • In Europe it grew by 35%, increasing to 77m monthly active users.
    • In the US it grew by 48% increasing to 45m active users.

16% of the US online population blocked ads during Q2 2015

Almost a sixth of all US internet users blocked ads during the second quarter of this year, according to the above study. 

63% of US millennials use ad blockers

According to a joint study by Fractl and Moz, almost two thirds of millennials use ad blocking software when browsing the web. 

The number dwarfs GlobalWebIndex’s recent claim of 34% for the same issue.

Austria and Hungary the most prolific ad blockers

ClarityRay audited more than 100m impressions across several top-tier publishers in the US and Europe to assess the pervasiveness of ad blocking software. 

Key findings include:

  • On average, 9.26% of impressions were found to be ad-blocked, with some sites reaching as high as 50%.
  • Tech sites average at 17.79%, followed by news (15.58%) and culture (9.94%). Business, real estate and travel sites average lower.
  • Ad blocking is higher in the US and EU: top countries are Austria (22.50%), Hungary (21.52%) and Germany (19.44%). Average in the US is 8.72%.
  • Blocking rate is found to be highest among Firefox users (17.81%), followed by Safari (11.30%) and Chrome (10.06%). Explorer averages at 3.86%.
  • Linux users have a staggering 29.04% blocking rate, compared with 12.95% for Mac users, and 9.25% for Windows users.
  • Mobile blocking is gaining popularity: Android shows a 2.24% blocking rate, and iOS 1.33%.

Blocking ads improves mobile site performance

The New York Times recently ran tests on iPhones using three different ad blockers, and reported that for sites containing mobile ads with a lot of data the load times accelerated significantly with ad blockers turned on.

Blocking ads also improves mobile battery life

The same study by The New York Times also found that battery life on the iPhone improved significantly with ad blocking software enabled. 

78% of mobile shopping last year took place on iOS devices

You're probably thinking, 'How is that an ad blocking stat?'

Well, Firefox and Chrome currently have a 93% share of mobile ad blocking between them, but with the recent news that iOS9 will enable ad blocking software there is every chance that Safari will catch up with them. 

Given that the majority of mobile shopping took place on iOS devices last year, this presents a worrying possibility for ecommerce advertisers. 

For lots more up-to-date statistics…                                           

Download Econsultancy’s Internet Statistics Compendium, a collection of the most recent statistics and market data publicly available on online marketing, ecommerce, the internet and related digital media.

It’s updated monthly and covers 11 different topics from advertising, content, customer experience, mobile, ecommerce and social.

Jack Simpson

Published 12 October, 2015 by Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (3)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

Re: A joint report by PageFair and Adobe, titled 'The cost of ad blocking', found that the rise of this type of software costs the worldwide publishing industry nearly $22bn every year in lost revenue.

It's certainly extremely annoying, and ad-blocking is already breaking websites that don't even carry adverts, but this number seems a gross over-estimate. For example...

"In a research note it published on Tuesday, UBS said ... the industry might lose $1 billion or so in revenue, the firm estimates, or 0.5% of what it pulls in every year."

"By failing to take into account reactions in supply and demand in the advertising market, it’s likely that the $21.8 billion dollar estimate is a gross inflation of the effects of ad blocking software,” Joshua Gans, Professor of Strategic Management."

almost 3 years ago


David Aldred, Web Manager at The University of Nottingham

Of course, advertisers could take the radical step of conforming to standards which prevent their advertising being annoying. There is an acceptable ads manifesto ( which lays out what could be done in this respect.

Essentially, if advertisers annoy potential customers, they will lose those customers. If they act more responsibly, they stand more chance of winning.

There's a local newspaper website in my area, for example, which incorporates ads which more than fill a mobile screen. You can't read their articles without dismissing the ad, and you can't dismiss the ad on mobile because the 'close' button is often actually off the screen. Faced with that sort of idiocy users either go away, or use adblock.

Rather than hand-wringing over doomsday scenarios predicting the End of the Internet As We Know It, advertisers could start to work with internet users rather than against them.

almost 3 years ago


Dave Harris, Job Title at SMD

NYT has nailed the two most important reasons why users block ads: speed of browsing and battery life. I'll also have to add the fact that ad networks have been responsible for major sites distributing malware because of lack of ad audits and lack of security of their ad serving networks.

Ad networks and, to some extent, publishers, have dug their own grave here, by serving non-optimised, heavy ads with a ton of tracking scripts in tow. So, this is consumers fighting back. They might not mind unobtrusive ads (see The Deck network), but not the rubbish served by the majority of the industry.

So, instead of the industry talking of "fighting back" by implementing reverse proxies, etc. it should realise that it has created the problem itself and change the way it does business, change ad formats, change ad behaviour.

almost 3 years ago

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