Some Internet users don’t like advertising. Enter the concept of ad blocking or ad filtering. Ads can come in all shapes and sizes: text, video, animations, pictures, audio and pop-up windows. This dilemma has led some developers to create popular ad blocking extensions like Adblock Plus and AdBlock (the two efforts are not related).
In the past few years, the number of Internet users who’ve used both extensions has skyrocketed. While that has given peace of mind to many users who don’t want to be bothered by ads when surfing their favorite websites, it has also raised an important question. Can the ad-supported business model of the Internet be slowly but surely coming to an end?
Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox lead the way in ad blocking, likely because these ad-blocking extensions were first installed in these two browsers. While the majority of page views on the Internet is not ad-blocked, estimates indicate that the number of people using ad blocking is growing steadily year by year. This creates a problem for websites because fewer people looking at ads means less money going to the website owners to continue providing access to the sites for free.
What’s interesting about ad blocking is that its use varies across locations in the world and in the type of sites that users are accessing. For example, the U.S. and the EU account for the highest rates of ad blocking. Tech sites lead the way when it comes to ad blocking, closely followed by news sites and then culture sites. Business, real estate and travel sites round out the other types of ad-blocked sites.
Figures show that AdBlock alone costs publishers and advertisers up to $12 billion. Google alone lost nearly £900 in 2012 to ad-blocking technology, according to estimates. This is what has some people worried: If this trend continues, many websites won’t be able to continue offering free access to their site visitors. Site visitors would then have to pay in order to get access to sites because site owners would no longer be able to make money from ads.
Only time will tell if all this ad-blocking technology will really change the way users access sites on the Internet.
Web content supported by advertising is here to stay, but will likely evolve (think youtube ads) to offset the effect of products such as Adblock.
Do you use Adblock or other ad-blocking software?