Ad blocker usage is up 11% since 2021, according to a newly published report, and the blame is being pinned on remote workers.
It's bad news for the likes of Google, as it currently battles with ad blockers on services such as YouTube, where it has taken the decision to penalise users who attempt to circumvent adverts on the platform.
With a sharp U-turn in ad-blocker usage since the pandemic, users could see even stricter methods of getting them to disable ad blocking software.
WFH Movement Caused Uptick in Ad Blockers
Eyeo references a Gartner report which found that PC sales in the U.S. and Europe were experiencing a 10-year high in early 2021, driven by the work-from-home trend that was at its peak in 2020-2021.
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Adding to this rationale is the fact that Eyeo found the increase in ad-blocker users was higher on desktop (27%) than on mobile phones (22%) by the end of the second quarter this year, indicating a shift in user behaviour due to changing work environments.
The Fight Back Against Ad Blockers
Prior to 2021, rates of ad blockers had plateaued following efforts from publishers encouraging people to deactivate ad blockers in exchange for access to content, as well as adopting Acceptable Ads standards, which aim to regulate and improve the quality of ads for users. The main criteria advertisers must comply with relate to the ability to distinguish ads as what they are – ads – and their size.
In attempting to tackle ad blockers, platforms such as YouTube, are taking a strong stand against the rise of ad-blockers in order to protect its core revenue driver. YouTube confirmed it has ‘launched a global effort’ to crack down on ad blockers by putting in place its own blocks. When a user with an ad-blocker activated device tries to watch content on the YouTube platform, they will be prompted to either allow ads or try YouTube Premium for no ads in order to see the video.
Google's Chrome has shown reluctance to join other browsers such as Apple’s Safari and Firefox in phasing out third-party cookies. The tech giant first intended to eliminate third-party cookies in 2022, before it pushed that deadline back to 2023, and now again to late 2024, buying advertisers time to plan for alternatives.
Google's Chrome made up 63.14% of the global browser market share in 2023, therefore this change -whenever it finally takes effect- will change the digital advertising landscape immeasurably.
Ad-blocker users are expected to exceed 1 billion in 2024. It's bad news for publishers, which the report forecasts are set to lose $54 billion in ad revenue, representing an approximate 8% loss in total ad spend.
Privacy and Control Matter Most to Users
The main takeaways from the Eyeo report for both publishers and advertisers is that consumers are taking more control over the type of ads they are exposed to. According to a survey by KPMG about bridging consumer trust and corporate data responsibility, 86% of respondents say data privacy is a growing concern for them.
The reason for using ad blockers is not necessarily synonymous with a disdain for all advertisements. According to the report, 58% were open or neutral towards seeing non intrusive ads and were more open to sharing personal data in exchange for premium content.
65% of respondents want to have control of ad relevance and 70% want control over which personal information is shared with advertisers.