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The Rise of Adblocking: The PageFair 2013 Report

The PageFair Team AdBlock 20 Comments

New Adblocking Data

We’re pleased to announce our 2013 report[pdf] on the state of adblocking. This report has been compiled from anonymous data analysed from hundreds of PageFair client sites over the course of the last year.

Adblocking is threatening the business model of online publishers. In this report we present new data demonstrating that adblock is being rapidly adopted by consumers, and is becoming mainstream. Based on measurements taken from hundreds of websites over 11 months, we show that up to 30% of web visitors are blocking ads, and that the number of adblocking users is growing at an astonishing 43% per year.

Download “The Rise of Adblocking” PDF

Join in the debate about this report on HackerNews and on Reddit.

 

  • Thanks for sharing! Incredible stuff. Publishers really need to diversify income, no doubt about it

  • Thanks for sharing, it’s appreciated! Ad revenue is nowhere near as reliable as it used to be. For smaller websites just starting off, this is a crippling truth they must learn to face.

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  • PageFair

    Thank you guys! The online advertising model definitely needs to be rethought if we are to continue to have a free internet. We’re open to suggestions as to alternative routes to revenue for publishers!

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  • Guest

    Hi – did you conduct this study globally or for a specific set of countries/regions? Would love to see the regional breakdown…

    • PageFair

      Our study was conducted globally using 220 client sites. We may possibly make a breakdown of regions or states available to the public in the future. Thanks for the comment!

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  • Anon

    Want us to stop using Ad-block? then stop advertising questionable stuff like meet/fuck sites, i got seriously sick of trying to disable those ads on my children’s computers when they are trying to watch shows online. I use ad block to filter that crap out.

  • Hi there – I know this report is a little old now, but IMO it still provides the best quantitative data out there on the impact of ad blockers.

    As an ABP user myself, I look forward to the updated report and whatever surprises it may hold. There doesn’t seem to be a ton of news on the subject lately – other than Eyeo being sued in various places) – so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of story the the numbers are telling.

    I just published my own take on the ad blocker debate, and would love to get some input from some of the opinionated folks here 🙂 I think we share some common ground, but I suspect the folks reading your blog might have some pretty good answers to the arguments I’ve made.

    If you’re interested, you can take a look here: http://www.ethoseo.com/blog/defense-ad-blockers-case-advertising/ Thanks!

    • pagefair

      Thanks Brendan. Very thorough post, and we agree with most of your points. The thing about small sites however is that getting anyone to pay for content is extremely difficult. Even the NY Times has trouble making that model work. It won’t be an achievable reality unless the friction in the payment process is zero, including not even having to press a “pay” button. We’re a long way off from any company being able to launch this kind of “netflix for the web” model.

      We think the biggest problem with adblocking is that it’s indiscriminate. Once you install it, all ads are blocked – the good, the bad and the ugly alike. If you view it as an incentive system, this means that those who try to run polite ads are punished equally to those running trashy ads. If adblock required the user to make an informed choice about which sites or ad formats to block, then advertising would automatically improve. Unfortunately, since users generally are not really mindful of the economics of producing web content, they are likely to choose the adblock version that’s easier to use (i.e. the one that doesn’t ask them to select the ads they block).

      It’s a tough situation, and the only practical solution is what you can see PageFair doing: putting high-quality ads back by default, with an opt-out. This gives the user more control, and allows the websites that adblockers frequent to survive instead of die.

      By the way, the new report is out. Check out https://pagefair.com/blog/2014/adblocking-report/

      • Thanks for the reply (and comment on our blog!). I’ll say I definitely approve of PageFair’s commitment to being on the “right” side of this debate – i.e., not simply trying to win back ads for publishers at any cost.

        Certainly some interesting insights in the new report – thanks for sharing that. One thing I’m curious about for the future is whether or not millenials’ ad-blocking patterns will change as they grow older. I’m thinking specifically of the subscription services like HBO, for example, where you’ve got Time Warner’s CEO enthusiastically turning a blind eye to piracy because he knows it creates longtime brand loyalty. The teenagers stealing Game of Thrones probably don’t have the disposable income to shell out for monthly cable – or they do but don’t want to – but when they’re in their thirties, it may well be a different story.

        Still, as you point out, it seems like the nature of this particular industry makes that analogy difficult (if the NYT can’t do it, who can?). And it’s disappointing to find out that appeals are so ineffective, because at first glance, they seem like a great and engaging solution.

        A question for you – while it seems PageFair ads have definitely got the right idea, I’m confused by your comment that adblocking is indiscriminate. Surely some plugins are, but ABP is pretty clearly pro-acceptable ads by default (link here: https://adblockplus.org/en/acceptable-ads).

        Could you explain the difference for me between PageFair ads and what ABP allows?

        • pagefair

          ABP launched the acceptable ads program, and we’ve signed up to it. Although we don’t agree with them on everything, we’re happy to have enough common ground with the acceptable ads program that we can take a few constructive steps together to help repair the revenue situation for sites.

          That said, when I call adblock plugins “indiscriminate”, I still include ABP in that category. It’s not as bad as its competitors, but it still doesn’t require the end user to make a conscious choice about blocking each publisher.