GlobalWebIndex study: people want to block ads on mobile – but only half know they can · 2017-05-31 14:00 by Ben Williams
More people now block ads on their mobile devices than on desktop. If you’re outside of Asia, this might come as a surprise to you. Desktop ad blocking, using extensions like Adblock Plus, began in Europe and has taken a strong foothold there and in North America. Mobile ad blocking, on the other hand, is relatively unknown across the US and the EU. But journey farther east, and the script flips: the Asia Pacific region accounts for 94 percent of mobile ad blocking growth, and this growth is what pushed it ahead of its desktop cousin.
We were curious as to why users in Europe and North America – ad blocking’s original home – do not block ads on their mobile devices with the same gusto they have when they sit down on their laptops or desktops. So we decided to hire GlobalWebIndex to write and conduct a survey of 1,011 users in the US: 596 women and 415 men. Mobile dominates here as over 80 percent of respondents owned a mobile device.
The results proved interesting. Most people neither knew about nor used mobile ad blockers, but when asked about their mobile preferences, it became clear that they desired a tool that would function like an ad-blocking browser.
For access to the complete analysis from GlobalWebIndex, you can download the report in full here. (Bear in mind that for their analysis, GlobalWebIndex also employed ad-blocker research from their core data set which represents 2.6 billion internet users across 40 countries; see page two of the study for more information).
Some quick takes from the survey
Blocking ads on mobile devices is way lower than PCs – Despite over 80 percent of people surveyed owning a mobile device, only 15 percent of internet device owners block ads on their mobile devices; when you narrow this to current ad blocker users, the number is only 22 percent. By comparison, 68 percent of these block ads on their laptops.
Users are not aware they can block ads on mobile devices – Just 48 percent of device owners in the US are even aware that they can block ads on their mobile. If we zoom out and look at only users who have not blocked ads on mobile, 6 in 10 are unaware of the possibility.
Consumers are still frustrated with the state of online advertising – 1 in 3 mobile users feel they see too many ads when browsing. Almost 50 percent of respondents said they have a desire to block all ads on their mobile devices.
Where are American and European early adopters?
Asia accounts for the majority of mobile ad blocking right now, so why aren’t there more early adopters from America and Europe blocking ads on mobile devices? As pointed out above, it appears that they just don’t know what they’re missing: only 48 percent of device owners said that they knew they could block ads on their mobile devices.
Beyond awareness, another barrier is moving beyond the default browser: only 14 percent of smartphone owners said that they use an additional browser on their phone. Another is lack of brand familiarity. Phone owners say the main reason for choosing a browser is the brand, and more than 3 in 4 of those who know about mobile ad blocking cannot name an app or browser that would allow them to do so.
So, many people just aren’t aware of the possibility and there appear to be a number of hindrances to adoption. But if people are blocking ads on their mobile devices, how prominent are the perceived benefits of surfing with an ad blocker?
Well, 7 out of 10 people who have either blocked an ad on their phone or know they can, said that they see cutting out intrusive ads as a chief advantage; almost 6 in 10 said they considered privacy to be a benefit; and more than half said that reducing data usage was a boon when blocking mobile ads.
Long story short: people who have tried out an ad blocker on their phones have immediately recognized the benefits.
Clearly there is underlying demand here. In fact, mobile appears to be a green field of opportunity and is steadily growing as users realize they can protect their privacy, save on battery life and quickly load pages when they utilize ad blockers. It’s just a matter of realizing it.