Ad blocking trends from 2020 – 2021

Ad blocking software is considered quite the obstacle in the word of digital marketing, with users seeing a steady rise in downloading and implementing ad blocking software, specifically from around 25% to 27% from 2018 to 2020.

The general reason attributed to this steady growth isn’t exactly hard to grasp, even (or perhaps especially) for digital marketers: many Ads are both poorly designed and intrusive. In many cases as well, the tracking cookies associated with these types of Ads are also cause for privacy issues. Therefore, it is no wonder that people are flocking in droves to use Ad blockers, as they provide a convenience not otherwise afforded by the websites they are browsing, blocking out intruding pop ups, saving the user bandwidth, and protecting their information from the grasps of marketing databases.

Indeed, while this trend was once confined to the know-how of small pockets of techies within the realms of cyberspace, currently ad blocking has become a common and widespread practice, with the current digital marketing trends in this regard still growing, as can be seen from research released by the world’s leading marketing research firm eMarketer. For example, according to that data, 2016 saw around 25% of digital citizens utilize some form of ad blocking software, with the most common platform in this regard being on computers, affecting smartphones much less. Currently, the general figure has increased, with approximately one third of users implementing ad blocking technology. At this rate, the use of ad blockers is expected to continue rising.

Google’s role in the rise of ad blockers, & the problem with Manifest v3.

Google had released to the public its own version of ad blocking back in July of 2020. Indeed, an unexpected turn of events, with the tech (and online advertisement) giant throwing its hat in the ring in support for the growingly annoyed masses. This “strategizing” might not be as perplexing as it might initially seem; it is understandable that the growing level of irritatingly formatted ads in circulation could spurn a strong disincentive for users engaging with google. So, in that regard, Google might have done itself a huge favor, with its ad blocking feature targeting ads that “repeatedly violate industry standards and continue to show intrusive annoying ads to people that visit their websites” (Social Media Today, 2019).

However, this interpretation of handling the “ad problem” might be set to change with the proposed update to their API in the form of the Manifest v3 programming interface, in January 2021. Through this new system, there will be an imposed limit to the extensions that may be implemented to any given web page. This sparked the ire of many Ad Blocker creators who suspect that such rules would find a way to stop their ad blocking extensions from executing their full list of actions and limit the extent in which Ad blockers could do their job. Google responded to this by saying that the allowance for maximum freedom and “providing nice things and hoping they don’t get misused eventually get users hurt. So this is a correction whose details are being honed.”

New limitations will be implemented to Google’s extension system. Therefore, ad blocker creators, who were previously innovating their products and even thinking of using concepts such as A.I. to improve ad blockers, will struggle to conform to the rapidly changing online ecosystem. Andrey Meshkov, a founder of the popular extension AdGuard, has claimed that such innovative ideas will hardly be a priority anymore, as all popular browsers will now “dictate what can or cannot be blocked and how it should be done.”

Points from GlobalWebIndex’s Inforgraphic Report

A great resource for Digital Marketing trends, GlobalWebIndex had released an infographics report regarding the ad blocking trends soon to come. Some key points that could be surmised through this report can be found in the following:

  • Men are much more likely to utilize ad blockers by comparison to women.
  • The Asia-Pacific region possesses the most individual instances of ad blocker users, with a surprisingly high level of browsers using the technology, up to 40% in fact. In second place is North America, with 38%.
  • The main reason for installing ad blocking technology according to 48% of users is that they are being exposed to an unreasonably high level of irrelevant ads. However, it seems like the second and most rapidly rising reason is saving battery life.
  • Different regions hold varying reasons as to why users use ad blockers. For example, the main reason in South America is to stave off the large amounts of irrelevant ads. In the Middle East/Africa, battery draining issues are the main concern.

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