On an average day, an individual is exposed to roughly 5000 advertisements. These adverts can come in many different shapes and sizes, ranging from banner ads to full on pop up adverts. This can not only interrupt a user’s task, but also completely ruin the whole experience for them, tarnishing not only the website or application, but the brand in question itself. Internet users have become so sick and tired of being bombarded with this constant harassment that they have actually turned to adblockers to completely eliminate online advertisements.
What are Adblockers?
Adblockers are proving to be not only popular, but also increasingly effective. But how do they work? Surprisingly, they are actually quite simple. Adblockers function by blocking different network requests, often to different well known and established ad servicing domains, and then actually hiding the parts of the web page that would have shown these adverts. As these ads are not shown, the publishers do not actually earn any revenue from them. By limiting the number of ads on a web page, users can expect to see an increase in their speed, savings on their bandwidth, as well as an extra level of protection of private information.
As you can imagine, these figures are both pleasing and reassuring to the average internet user, and they can expect to have a much easier time browsing the web. In fact, survey results have suggested that 89% of people who have actually installed adblockers did it to improve their user experience. The most common adblocking plugins are Adblock Plus with 51% market share and Adblock with 38% market share.
Who uses them?
Now that we know what adblockers do, we need to see if they are actually being used, and by who. As expected, these programs/extensions are more commonly found being used by more affluent users of the internet, which happens to be the younger generations. The variation of age and experience, along with geographical location and work experience, means that adblockers can have a large impact on a number of many different publishers, websites and application. In fact, CBS Interactive have reported that across their twenty properties, adblock uses ranges from as little as 5% all the way up to 40%.
While these figures might not seem so surprising, the sheer rate of expansion has caught everyone off guard. In the year 2009, there were 20 million users, while in 2015, there were over 200 million users. From the second quarter of 2014 to the second quarter of 2015 alone, the number of adblock users jumped 41%, adding more than 50 million new users. In the US, it has been said the adblockers are loaded onto 12% of page views. Europe has even higher numbers, in particular France, where it reached an incredible 30%.
Adblockers are more commonly found on computers and web pages, rather than mobile devices and applications. Mobiles had a very small percentage of page views back in September of 2015, with it only accounting for 0.1%. This reason why this was so low was simply because it was proving more and more difficult to install adblockers on mobile devices. However, all this changed with the introduction of Apple’s iOS 9. This operating software actually enabled the downloading and installation of adblocking apps from the apple store. Within days of its initial release, 3 out of the top 5 rated apps in the store were actually adblockers themselves. Adblock, and Adblock Plus, have over 500 million downloads between them and continue to be some of the most popular ad blockers. Adblock Plus supports the Acceptable Ads initiative. By default, Acceptable Ads are shown, which helps support websites that rely on advertising revenue, but choose to only display non intrusive ads. These extensions are often free to download and install across many different platforms.
How do companies combat adblockers?
Whilst adblockers prove to be useful to the average internet user, in allowing them to browse and view webpages/applications without the hassle of advertisements slowing down their experience, the unfortunate downfall about the fact that adblockers exist, is the negative impact it can have on businesses, as businesses rely on advertisements to create a relatively steady income. In particular, independent publishing companies rely on advertisements to pay wages and continuously provide news to the general public, without asking for donations or expecting to shut down within a few weeks/months.
In a bid to go around adblockers — especially within the news-publishing industry, websites have begun implementing different tactics in order to remind users to support them, be it through disabling the adblocking program/extension entirely, whitelisting the website in question, subscribing to newsletters, or even playing on emotions through ‘understanding the use of adblock, however support us through these other means’ in order to allow users to view any articles published. Certain websites such as the Guardian even offer users the opportunity to pay a set fee to view as many articles as they would like for a year long-subscription without advertisements.
In noticing the effect that adblockers have caused on these websites, program/extension creators have found a way to combat this issue as well, through offering websites the opportunity to follow guidelines which would make them and the advertisements they utilize to become whitelisted automatically — whilst still preserving the browsing experience for users alike.
In conclusion, adblockers are used as a means to allow users to view websites and experience them with a lack of intrusions or distractions — leading to a smoother, faster and better viewing experience, unfortunately at the cost of the incoming revenue to businesses who rely on advertisements as their main form of revenue. This becomes an issue for the businesses, especially small independent ones, as not too many users would likely fund them in other ways, be it through donations or subscriptions — leading to the unfortunate demise of said businesses.
However, in using an innovative method such as Gath3r, websites and applications alike are capable of ensuring a steady stream of revenue by allowing users to completely neglect advertisements without the aid of adblockers — by simply consenting to the use of their excess CPU and GPU power being used at a capped amount (therefore not hindering the performance of their computer or their viewing experience) whilst scrolling through the website/application in question. This allows businesses to be independent from their reliance on an unfortunately outdated revenue stream, which is advertisements.