Ad blocking has existed for several years now, but has been adopted by millions of Internet users in the past several months. There were only 120,000 ad blocking users in January 2010, and in the past few months, ad blocking has increased by over a million users every month, which we tracked through the Chrome and Firefox webstores. This is a much higher rate than ever before. Why is this happening? Why now?
Let’s try to isolate all our variables in this ad-blocking equation. We have:
a) the actual ads (quality and type)
Have ads changed much over the past several years? It seems to me that ads have remained constant, with some sites presenting obtrusive, loud and animated ads, while other sites present more conservative ads. With the exception of video ads, which are relatively new, the spectrum of online advertising has not changed much. So, a change in the actual ads must not be a cause of the rise in ad blocking.
b) internet users
Have the Internet users changed over the past two or three years? There are two possible ways that Internet users changed. Either they have become fed up with the same old advertising. Or, they have seen so much Internet content, that they now feel entitled to ad-free content. Most likely, both of these are causes.
c) browsers and web-stores
Many internet users are migrating to Google Chrome from Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Now, Chrome has over 35% of the browser market share (Source:StatCounter). Chrome has a super-effective web-store, with thousands of extensions available. More people are installing extensions now than ever before, and this inevitably leads to an increase in ad-blocking users.
d) ad-blocking technology
Has ad-blocking technology changed? AdBlock still blocks ads, as usual. But in order for AdBlock to have gained momentum, it needed to reach a critical mass. AdBlock technology is based on rules, which allowed it to become more effective as more users installed it (network effect). Only then, it provided enough value for its end-users, which then lead to a huge rise in downloads.
Many people seem to have a strong opinion on this subject matter; what’s yours?