A new study by British firm Juniper Research has estimated that digital publishers stand to lose over $US27 billion ($A36 billion) by 2020, as online publishers struggle to find effective strategies to counter ad blocking.
The new research, Worldwide Digital Advertising: 2016-2020, found that publishers are racing to overcome the increasing challenge posed by ad blockers. Developer activity is set to increase over the next 5 years making ad-blockers more sophisticated and difficult to overcome.
While ad blocking is limited to browsing activities at present, publishers are likely to face the additional threat of in-app ad blockers in the future.
Apple & Three Raise the Ad Blocking Stakes
The threat to ad revenues was intensified by Apple’s inclusion of content blocking software in iOS9. Furthermore, publishers will soon face additional challenges from the network operators. The operator Three has already announced plans to roll out ad blocking at a network level to all of its customers, and Juniper expects more operators to follow suit.
Research author Sam Barker added: “Adoption is being driven by consumer concerns over mobile data usage and privacy. They are also incentivised to adopt the technology in order to reduce page load times”.
Acceptable Ad Initiatives (AAI) such as Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) programme are designed to increase trust in digital ads and discourage the use of ad blockers. Juniper argues that such initiatives, are a positive thing, and vital to both publishers in maintaining revenues, and users receiving the content they demand.
Ad Blocking Posts Big Questions for Publishers
The research found that smaller publishers are most at risk from the rapid adoption of ad blocking software as they often solely rely on revenues from advertising to continue operating. Ad blockers, such as Adblock Plus and Adblock Fast, are witnessing increasing adoption of their products, especially from Millennials and other younger browsers.
Publishers need to develop new strategies that encourage this demographic to allow their ads to be seen. Meanwhile, certain websites have found success in blocking their content to those who use ad blocking technology, such as Forbes and Wired.com.