In August last year, Adobe and PageFair reported that the global number of ad blocking users had grown from 21 million in 2009 to just under 200 million in mid-2015. Earlier today PageFair (and Priori Data) released a new mobile ad blocking report that asserts there are now roughly 419 million mobile ad blockers around the globe.
In other words, the numbers have doubled in about a year. Approximately 22 percent of smartphone users worldwide are blocking ads. Asia is where ad blocking is most widely practiced. It’s “less developed” in North America and Europe according to the report’s findings.
The most popular and widely adopted method of ad blocking is now mobile browser based. PageFair said that it identified “45 different adblocking browsers available for download on iOS and Android.” But by far the most commonly used ad blocking browser is the UC browser, which is owned by Alibaba.
The UC browser is now the second most popular mobile browser in the world, according to StatCounter, behind Chrome and ahead of Safari. Its largest markets are China, India, Vietnam, Russia and Indonesia.
Many North America-based surveys have identified consumer complaints about ad relevance or intrusiveness, as well as slow load times, as motivations for using ad blocking. In the developing world, however, mobile data costs and the savings associated with ad blocking appear to be the primary consideration.
Google’s AMP and several other initiatives are attempts to improve ad quality and address mobile user complaints. Facebook is also trying to improve the quality of ads that it runs on its own properties and its Audience Network. Those efforts may prove to be irrelevant in developing markets.
The report predicts that mobile browser-based blocking is now so mainstream in certain countries that “the next billion users,” which Facebook is keenly interested in, “may be invisible to digital marketers.” They will simply be blocking ads out of the gate.