Usage of ad blockers declines despite growing awareness of availability

Despite the general awareness of ad blockers rising from 59% to 63% among Australians, usage has actually declined to 25% from 27% back in October 2016. That’s according to the latest findings from IAB Australia’s Ad Blocking in Australia report conducted by Pureprofile.

This trend is not unique to Australia. Indeed, over the last year, ad blocker usage has also stabilised in the UK to 22%.

Overall, mobile ad blocking is significantly below desktop levels with just 4% of Australians saying they had an ad block app installed on their smartphones compared to 21% on desktop.

Vijay Solanki, CEO of IAB Australia, cautions:

“Whilst it is positive news that the use of ad blocking appears to be stabilising in Australia, it is imperative that the advertising industry continues to double down on our efforts to evolve and improve the ad experience for consumers.”

Consumers are using ad blockers predominantly to stop them from viewing annoying content. Six in 10 people using an ad blocker are bothered by the quantity and intrusiveness of digital and mobile ads. Another core reason to use ad blockers according to respondents in this survey was the fear of obtaining a virus.

However, it appears that publishers’ initiatives such as on-screen prompts that ask consumers to turn off their ad blockers are working. Indeed, six in 10 people have taken action in response to such messages. That’s an increase from 55% from October 2015 to 62%.

That means consumers can be persuaded to turn off their ad blockers. For example, they are much more likely to turn them off if a site or publisher blocks content or guarantees that ads are virus-free.

IAB Australia says that it has already taken measures to ensure higher advertising standards as part of the Coalition for Better Ads and the IAB Tech Lab in the US.

Solanki adds:

“As mobile emerges as the channel of choice for many consumers, it will be key to ensure that mobile advertising respects the close relationship that a consumer has with their mobile phones and adheres to the LEAN principles of providing lighter, relevant and higher quality advertising experiences.”