A new study suggests that over one in five people, 419 million people, are using ad-blocking technology on their smartphones.
Many websites rely on advertising revenue to survive, but a new study suggests that a lot of people are using technology to prevent the ads from showing up. The study, conducted by PageFair, suggests that 22 percent of global smartphone users, about 1.9 billion people in March 2016, are using this software, and many of those are through default ad-blocking browsers.
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Ad-blocking is a controversial issue. We have all been frustrated as the page we are looking to load is delayed by the large number of advertisements appearing. Or you are about to click a link, but suddenly an ad appears where the cursor is and you find yourself suddenly visiting a whole new part of the web. However, like TV companies who get upset when you flick through channels during commercial breaks, are you breaking the unwritten agreement that suggests if you look at the content (often for free), you should allow them to generate revenue through digital advertising.
Emerging Market Phenomena
The biggest usage of the ad-blocking software is coming from emerging markets. The report indicates that in China, around 159 million people have mobile browsers that will automatically prevent the advertising from appearing on your phone, and not far behind is India where another 122 million are also enjoying advert free Internet usage. In Indonesia, one of the fastest growing smartphone markets, ad-blocking software is being used by over two thirds of all users.
The US and Europe have much smaller numbers where it appears ad-blocking is not as widespread, as only 14 million combined are using these services, and just 4.3 million Americans, which works out to just 2.2 percent.
If this much needed source of revenue is literally blocked at its source, websites and publishers will look to earn money through other avenues, and the likely consequence of this increasing phenomena is increased subscription and paywall initiatives. It is hard to see this trend changing anytime soon, and as the US and Europe join the ad-blocking party (Three, a UK network will roll out ad blocking technology at a network level in June), it remains to be seen what the future of the Internet holds. People have become accustomed to free content online, but if the funding source for that provision is taken away, the whole model is thrown upside down.