Ad Blocking in the UK begins to stabilise

Sep 6, 2018 | Online advertising, UK

More than a fifth of internet users in the UK are expected to install an ad blocker this year, but growth is slowing, according to new research.

eMarketer’s latest forecast report – Ad Blocking in the UK 2018 – shows that use of ad blockers in the UK is stabilizing, with growth slowing to single digits this year.

In 2018, 12.2 million people in the UK will block ads on a desktop/laptop or on a smartphone. While any ad blocking is a concern for publishers, the rate in the UK is relatively low compared with other Western countries tracked by eMarketer. We estimate that 22.0% of internet users in the UK will use ad blocking software this year, compared with 28.7% in France, 32.0% in Germany and 25.2% in the US.

eMarketer defines an ad blocker as an internet user of any age who accesses the web at least once per month via any device (including a mobile device) that has an ad blocker enabled. Default ad blockers that are enabled automatically, such as Google Chrome’s built-in filter, are not included in eMarketer’s definition.

Unsurprisingly, ad blocking rates are highest among younger Internet users. eMarketer estimates that 43% of all 18- to 24-year-olds in the UK will use an ad blocker in 2018, compared with less than 21% for those aged 45 and older.

Even though ad blocking rates are growing faster on mobile than on desktops/laptops, the proportion of ad blocking users on smartphones will remain much lower. We expect 38.0% of ad blockers will use software on smartphones, while 88.9% will use it on desktops/laptops. One reason for this is because blocking ads in apps—where most mobile time is spent—is a harder sell, with users having to provide unfettered access to their app data.

“The growth in ad blocking users may be slowing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a problem to be dismissed,” eMarketer senior analyst Bill Fisher said. “Revenues lost as a result of the practice remain substantial, so it’s incumbent upon the industry to continue to improve upon the digital ad experience, with better messaging around the benefits of an ad-supported model and ultimately better ads.”


eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.

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