Globally, the number of internet users who use ad blocking software grew by 41% year-over-year in Q2 and reached 198 million in June, according to a recent study [pdf] from Adobe and PageFair, which pegs the economic toll of this activity at $11.7 billion globally last year. The study indicates that 16% of the US online population blocked ads in 2015; separately, a new survey from Kelley Scott Madison (KSM) [download page] finds 47% of US respondents saying they use ad blocking technology. That report notes, however, that there may be some confusion between ad blocking and cookie data restriction among the respondents. (Almost one-third – 29% – of respondents said they set their browsers to limit/restrict sites from gathering web cookies.)
Of note, the KSM survey finds a high rate of concern with privacy settings among Google Chrome users. That’s interesting in light of the Adobe and PageFair study, which reveals that there are far more ad blocking users on Chrome than on Firefox or other browsers. Chrome is also the main driver of ad blocking growth, per the study.
Some 45% of respondents to the KSM survey reported being “extremely” or “very” influenced by privacy settings when choosing a browser, with this figure higher among youth. Privacy appears to be a key influence in the use of ad blocking technology: in a survey accompanying their study, Adobe and PageFair found that among those not using an ad blocking extension, the main reason for beginning to do so would be a feeling that their personal data was being misused to personalize the ads.
Meanwhile, the study notes that ad blocking behavior is more prevalent on websites that attract young, technically savvy, or more male audiences. Gaming websites, for example, are easily the most affected.
Finally, while mobile isn’t a factor yet in ad blocking – representing just 1.6% of ad block traffic on PageFair’s network – it is expected to grow, particularly given the support for such applications in iOS 9.
About the Data: The KSM data is based on a survey of 1,000 US adults conducted by ORC International.