The advertising industry could be in for a rude awakening, with the growing adblock trend snatching £14 billion in revenue from the web in 2015. This figure is expected to grow, with a report from PageFair and Adobe claiming a potential £50 billion in lost advertising revenue by 2016 worldwide.
In the UK, adblock services grew up 82 per cent, with 12 million users deciding to block adverts. AdBlock Plus is the most popular service, which provides a large database of blocked adverts alongside some approved adverts that are not obnoxious.
Across Europe, the growth is much lower, with only 35 per cent growth in adblock over the past year. That accounts for 77 million Europeans blocking adverts. The United States also noted 42 per cent growth in adblock users.
“It is tragic that adblock users are inadvertently inflicting multi-billion dollar losses on the very websites they most enjoy," said PageFair CEO and co-founder Sean Blanchfield. "With ad blocking going mobile, there’s an eminent threat that the business model that has supported the open web for two decades is going to collapse. PageFair is working with thousands of publishers to securely display user-friendly advertising and keep free websites in business. I hope this report will prompt more editors, website owners, and publishers to join with us to combat the problem."
AdBlock Plus has already launched its service on mobile, to start blocking ads on the mobile web. Even though some may call this theft, AdBlock has won its case in court many times, most recently in Germany where it was deemed legal.
Even Google CEO Larry Page acknowledges the reason adblock is so popular, because obnoxious adverts force web users to start blocking. The real question is how many adblock users unblock sites they regularly view—this stat hasn’t been tracked by Pagefair.
Another almost untraceable statistic is the growing donations and merchandise option. Instead of watching ads, some users are deciding to donate a small amount per month to keep the site active, or buying a piece of merchandise. The latter option would equate to years of viewing adverts, which would take 100,000 views to be worth the price of a t-shirt.
The generation of free web content might be coming to a close, but it is more likely websites and content creators will find new ways to make money from an audience.