Ad blocking threatens entire internet industry, warns IAB UK chief

20 Aug 201532 Shares

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If the web didn’t have ads, most sites could only exist by charging subscriptions’

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The damage being wrought by ad-blocking software could eventually lead to an internet where most sites may only exist by charging subscriptions, the CEO of IAB UK Guy Phillipson has warned.

Recent research by Irish start-up PageFair and Adobe found that some US$21.8bn in advertising revenues will be lost in 2015 due to ad blocking, mainly by millennials.

In the US, ad blocking grew by 48pcto 45m active users between the second quarter of 2014 and the second quarter of 2015, equating to 16pc of the US online population.

In Europe, ad blocking grew by 35pc during the same period to 77m monthly active users.

In the UK, 15pc of the online population are using ad-blocking software.

‘The bottom line is that if the web didn’t have ads, most sites could only exist by charging subscriptions’
– GUY PHILLIPSON

Phillipson warns that this trend threatens the entire web ecosystem, which is largely funded by advertising.

Research with YouGov revealed that more than half of web users in the UK don’t understand that advertising funds their activities online.

Ad blocking has gone mainstream

There are 150m people worldwide who now block ads and this is no longer confined to the early adopters but is increasingly mainstream, which is worrying for both publishers and advertisers.

There is a reason why people use ad blockers

“People who use ad blockers have their cake and eat it.

“The bottom line,” said Philipson, “is that if the web didn’t have ads, most sites could only exist by charging subscriptions.”

However, Philipson recognised that there has had to be a reason why people opt for ad blocking – ads that clutter web pages.

He said advertisers, publishers and technology providers have a key role to play in ensuring that sites are not cluttered with ads that interfere with people’s enjoyment of the web.

“People should enjoy quality content with quality ads,” he says.“This should now read as something of a warning to our industry.”

Ad-blocking image via Shutterstock

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com