Digital publishers could lose up to US$27 billion to adblockers by 2020 with in-app ad blockers to provide a fresh challenge in the future, a new study by UK digital research and consultancy Juniper has found.
The research found that smaller publishers are most at risk from adblocking software, such as Adblock Plus and Adblock Fast, with millennials driving the rapid rise in adblocker adoption.
The study, Worldwide Digital Advertising: 2016-2020, warned that an increase in developer activity over the next five years will only make adblockers more sophisticated and difficult to overcome.
At present, adblocking is limited to browser activity and the report predicts adblocking software will soon be developed to counter in-app ads.
Apple has already introduced content blocking software in its iOS9 operating system, making it even easier for iPhone users to block ads. Rival Samsung has also introduced an ad blocking plug in for its native operating system on the Android phones.
The network operator Three has also announced plans to roll out adblocking at a network level to all of its customers, and Juniper predicts more operators could follow.
“Adoption is being driven by consumer concerns over mobile data usage and privacy. They are also incentivised to adopt the technology in order to reduce page load times,” report author Sam Barker says.
To tackle the problem, Google is believed to be developing an acceptable ads policy to ensure ads across its websites and DoubleClick ad exchange meet a minimum standard.
It is unclear whether Google, the most dominant player in digital advertising, will go it alone in developing a policy or work with other publishers and industry bodies.
If Google opts to go alone, it risks losing digital advertising to rivals, while it could be difficult to find consensus for an industry-wide approach with so many competing interests.
Some publishers have tried other methods to deter adblockers, such as locking people out of content if they use the software. Wired has introduced a fee for users to view their website ad-free.
Meanwhile, some adblocking vendors are cashing in by charging publishers to be placed on a white list.
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