Approximately 27% of Internet users block ads on their devices. This means that a very significant part of advertising messages does not reach the audience, the size of which is about 1.2 billion people.
People are massively trying to clean up annoying invitational chants from websites, from browser versions of social networks, from online TV platforms. There is a relatively new global market of ad blockers, which is technically difficult and very, very ambiguous ethically.
To an uninformed layman, it may seem that stubborn users of blockers are some few marginals who “need more than anyone”. But it is worth looking at their number, and it becomes clear: the private struggle against the dominance of advertising on personal devices is a serious, global phenomenon.
Blockers are in demand, and this specific market promises not fast, but still growth. The loss of publishers and platforms from falling ad views, including monsters such as YouTube or the Chinese portal Sina.com.cn, are already estimated in billions of dollars.
Interestingly, users of all kinds of ad blockers often realize that their behavior jeopardizes the earnings of sites that they themselves love and often visit. But the motivation to block ads is usually stronger than the considerations that publishers (especially small ones) somehow need to make a living.
It is also curious that many companies developing successful ad blockers once started with declarations of high ideas and relative selflessness, and today they themselves have turned into a kind of advertising networks. That is, they earn money by adding a particular business to the “white lists”, according to which advertising from the “right” companies is not blocked.
Why do people persist in cutting out online ads
GlobalWebIndex presented the results of a study that revealed in some detail the motivation of fans to block ads. This is mainly done by young people: 31% aged 16-24 years, 32% aged 25-34 years and 20% aged 35-44 years. People over forty–five are much less likely to use blockers: 11% – aged 45-54 years and only 6% – aged 55-64 years.
Here are the main reasons why Internet users resist advertising (the percentages do not add up, it was possible to give several answers):
- there are too many ads (48%);
- it is annoying or irrelevant (47%);
- she is too annoying (44%);
- ads contain viruses or are buggy (38%);
- takes up too much screen space (38%);
- using blockers speeds up page loading (33%);
- blockers allow you to get rid of video ads on web pages and TV platforms (29%);
- special software prevents the display of video ads before watching shows or clips (29%);
- “advertising violates my online privacy” (26%);
- “I want to stop using my personal data” (23%);
- blockers allow you to save battery power of the device (23%);
- blockers allow you to stop the personalization of ads (22%).
If we talk about which countries have the most widespread culture of blocking online advertising, then you can look at the Statista data. The five champions here are as follows:
- Greece (42%)
- Poland (36%)
- France (34%)
- Turkey (33%)
- Germany (33%)
The USA is in 19th place with a result of 27%.
Troll under the bridge
In principle, people are inconsistent, impulsive, tend to change their opinion on a particular issue and even their entire worldview. Their motivation for using ad blockers may be, for example, this: “I give money for the Internet, and there is nothing for me to show anything there – it has already been swallowed up.” In fact, Internet users block ads in such an impressive number, simply because they can, and that it’s free.
Few people think about whether it is worth doing this. Although according to a survey by HubSpot conducted in the USA, 83% of Internet surfers admit that not all advertising messages are “bad”. And 77% percent would like to have not a total ad blocker, but a kind of “filter”. Well, for example, to cut off only pop-ups and video ads.
However, if we talk about less annoying formats, we will run into a problem – it is impossible to create such a filter that would distinguish “bad advertising” from “good”. Even with the involvement of neural networks, it is unlikely that this will be possible to build at the current stage of technology development. After all, educated, subtle people with good taste most often cannot convey to people with bad taste what it is in general – “taste”. What can we say about bringing this to the attention of artificial intelligence…
63% of American Internet users believe that most online advertising samples look unprofessional. And 56% say that it offends their intelligence.
Only 7% of respondents report that they clicked on an ad because it was attractive. 34% say that their clicks were a mistake, and 15% accuse advertisers of deceiving them.
7 (!) percent of attractive (and therefore effective) advertising is a negligible fraction. This indicator indirectly tells us a sad story about the quality of the work of creatives. And, it would seem, Internet users have an impressive motive to cut out all the advertising in a row – after all, 93% of it is lousy, and there are no smart filters.
But let’s allow ourselves not to believe it. Most likely, it turned out the same as always: something free appeared on the market, which can be applied with a couple of clicks. As a result, the vast majority of advertising from websites “disappears” for a billion and two hundred million of their visitors.
You can install extensions that cut ads in browser versions of YouTube and other platforms. That’s just because there are such extensions. And why not do it, since advertising is annoying?
Another thing is how they appeared on the market at all – they are so free and attractive. Let’s consider the background of the work of companies that produce ad blockers. The largest of them did what is often described in old fairy tales. Do you remember – there was, say, somewhere in the N-th kingdom a bridge over a fast river? People carried goods along it and each other. But one day a troll settled under the bridge and began to demand payment for the crossing. He began to beat those who did not agree to pay with a club.
The producers of a whole scattering of ad blockers did exactly the same as a fabulous troll. They started blocking this very advertisement on the sites that live off advertising. Why? Because they can. Ad blockers are not prohibited by laws anywhere. Programmers legally write and improve them. And publishers are losing revenue, and advertisers are losing almost a third of the audience (and, accordingly, potential revenue).
What do trolls do then? They roll out “white lists of acceptable advertising”. So, for example, the German company Eyeo, the manufacturer of the popular Adblock Plus blocker, did.
In short, such enterprises have come up with this: they take money from a business that is willing to pay for its advertising not to be “cut out” on websites. Let’s think about it: the business already pays publishers for advertising, and now it has to pay third parties so that they don’t block it. This is a classic “troll under the bridge”, no matter how beautifully the creators of ad blockers themselves tried to present the situation.
And they’re trying
High-tech trolls create organizations like the “Committee for Acceptable Advertising” (AAC). This is allegedly an alliance of the manufacturers of blockers themselves, publishers and lawyers acting on behalf of Internet users. And these comrades allegedly develop some “standards” of acceptable advertising that allow them to justify “white lists” (and take money from businesses for getting into them).
One would expect that such committees are non-profit organizations, but that was not the case. In particular, the same AAC is a German LLC (GmbH), a branch of the commercial company Eyeo (creator of Adblock Plus, as described above).
Uh… what? In fact, every self-respecting country has its own state law on advertising, which clearly explains what can be shown to an Internet user, and what is not allowed. States are, of course, “trolls under the bridge” themselves, but at least they are recognized by the majority of their citizens. Many even have democracy.
“But who are you guys?” – I would like to ask the representatives of the AAC. “And by what right can you bend publishers from the USA, Russia, Brazil – yes, from anywhere?” As we can see, in fact, ad blockers have created an artificial problem today. And the business has to fight with it who knows what.
Users are not aware of the dangers of using ad blockers
Ask the average user of some blocker – is he even aware of what is happening? Probably not. Ordinary people set themselves browser extensions and mobile applications that cut ads, and enjoy consuming content on “clean” sites. About what the creators of this content will eat, ordinary people do not think at all.
People, in principle, hardly move their brains if it’s not about their own stomach. Therefore, they are happy to use freebies, creating conditions for someone (publishers, platforms and advertisers) to be forced to feed trolls – self–appointed arbitrators on the issue of the “acceptability” of advertising.
Most likely, it’s time for legislators to come into play here. If some German LLC allows itself to obviously vulgarly take away income from the same media, this is not normal. Our own economy needs to be protected. The author of these lines does not believe that he is writing this, but in this case he wholeheartedly supports the legislative restriction of the distribution of ad blockers on the Internet – it does not matter whether foreign or not. We have a national advertising law. Thank you all, but we don’t need additional trolls on the market, there are quite enough state trolls.
There will be no blocker bans for a long time, but what should business do?
As we learned above, until 2024, there seems to be no need to worry about the impact of blockers on online business. This, of course, is doubtful, because even if they are used by “only” a fifth of the local Internet audience, it is already painful. But let’s be realistic – until Google and other large Internet companies, which are partly listened to in the government, speak loudly about this, nothing in the legislation will move.
The only irresistible way to combat programmatic ad blocking for advertisers is the good old content marketing. The way out is to produce your own interesting user materials in any genre and roll them out on web pages in the form of the main dish.
In this case, no ad blocker will be able to take it away from the audience, because such content neither in the code, nor in the headings, nor in the headings, nor in the notes has any indication that it is any advertising. And blockers will also not be able to cut links to specific landing pages (stores, company websites), because – and how will they distinguish a direct advertising link from a direct link to some important source of information? It is manually necessary to sit – people, not algorithms. “Trolls” will not pull this, because the task is approaching the level of the “Great Chinese Firewall”.
The most difficult thing, of course, is for publishers who use an advertising monetization model – mass media, blogs and other “new media”. It remains for them to close the viewing of content from those users who use ad blockers, as, say, Business Insider does.
Yes, it sometimes hurts, it’s a pity to miss the audience. But here you really need to choose – either feed the “trolls”, or not let them invade your honest and very difficult content business. Are readers suffering? But let them think – why does your favorite magazine suddenly not want to let them on its pages?
That is, is it indecent to get rid of advertising on the Web for a simple person?
Well, uh… yes. Strictly speaking, the Internet strongly resembles the biosphere of planet Earth. It has its parasites, its donors, its symbiotic systems. And its own ecology. Such an ethically rubbery business as the production of free ad blockers upsets an already precarious balance.
It is undoubtedly spoiled by some conditionally “content” platforms. For example, the main social networks of the planet are also not white and not fluffy. They themselves do not produce the content that appears in their interfaces, but quite parasitize their own users. They create content for free, and they watch the ads embedded in it.
But the thing is that in this case, the user can choose a social network to his liking. A business that leads its own difficult SMM in social networks, too.
But when an obvious troll comes and starts to bring down all advertising in general – wherever he can reach, and then he starts selling places in the “white lists”… does the sought-after “ordinary person” really want to participate in this? Especially if it was explained to him that blockers, among other things, are ruining small businesses and micro-publishers, who are also, in general, “ordinary people” and generally do not sail yachts the length of a multi-storey building, bought with super profits from advertising?
The billion and a half Internet users who get rid of advertising on the screens of their devices with the help of free software, I want to say:
“Friends, maybe it was worth studying the issue a little deeper before pressing the install button? After all, simple and seemingly innocent decisions sometimes lead to serious consequences for entire communities of people whose existence you don’t even know about.”
Fans of the principle of “let the strongest survive” do not want to say anything. Except to remind you that every young and strong person can suddenly meet a car that has flown around the corner or, there, pick up a new virus in a nice coffee shop. And in a matter of days or minutes from the strong to become the weakest.