The Rise of Ad Blocking Is Changing Digital Marketing (Report)

A report from eMarketer predicts that the use of ad blocking software will increase to double digits this year.

The marketing industry often works toward incremental change in search of greater profits. For example, spending millions fighting for a slightly higher percentage of engagement or increased ROI. However, there’s a challenge to marketers that is costing marketers billions: ad blocking. New data from eMarketer predicts that ad blocking will only become an ever larger obstacle for marketers.

As of 2014, more than 15 percent of internet users in the U.S. were using ad-blocking software. This year, that number is expected to climb above 26 percent, and by 2017, almost a third of all internet users will be using some form of ad blocker.

According to eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna, the industry needs to take action to address this growing trend:

Ad blocking is a detriment to the entire advertising ecosystem, affecting mostly publishers, but also marketers, agencies and others whose businesses depend on ad revenue. The best way for the industry to tackle this problem is to deliver compelling ad experiences that consumers won’t want to block.

A compelling ad experience could stop users adopting ad blockers; however, users have many more reasons for screening out ads. Mostly users find ads intrusive, and since the launch of ad blocking software on mobile devices, they are able to spend more of their online time in an ad-free environment.

eMarketer’s data indicates that nearly 30 percent of U.S. internet users are already using the technology on their smartphones, and the use of mobile ad blockers will increase by 62.3 percent this year alone.


As more users are adopting adblockers every year, the industry has been slow to react. Subscription services like YouTube Red, and premium/freemium models like Spotify, highlight the drive to respond to user demands for an ad-free experience. The issue with these services is that paying for them has to deliver a better UX than ad blockers, which are most often free. This is perhaps the most significant challenge marketers have to face this year: convincing users to pay to avoid ads.