Unpacked: Global Ad Blocker Usage on Smartphones

On the heels of some recent news reports that Google has made over $30 billion dollars from Android, I thought it would be fun to share one of my favorite stats. Toward the end of last year, I was having a conversation with Matt Richman, a college student and blogger who helped me do some behavioral research on Millenials last year. During the course of these interviews, Matt and I uncovered the dirty little secret of ad blockers. We were asking college students about ads they see and remember online and a number of our interview subjects indicated they did not see ads because they use an ad blocker. Upon this discovery, I decided to do deeper research on ad blocking and add it to our global quarterly survey set. Below are my most recent findings specific to ad blockers on smartphones.

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I have the same data for PC-based ad blocking but, because the smartphone is becoming the primary internet device for the masses and, in light of the recent Google Android news, I decided to isolate the data. As you can see, over 20% of the global internet audience is already using an ad blocker on their smartphone. 16.1% have not begun using an ad blocker but are interested in doing so. Just over 30% haven’t used an ad blocker and aren’t interested in going through the trouble to install one.

In light of what Matt and I discovered, I decided to slice the answers by demographic to see how different age groups answered the same question. Below are the results by age demographic.

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In line with the discovery Matt and I made, ad blocking is most common among the millennial demographic. I can’t stress enough how valuable this demographic is from an advertising standpoint. As ad blocking becomes more the norm with this group, on smartphones and on PCs, it will require significant adjustment. What is also interesting is many of these ad blocking services are not free. Currently over 25% of millennials using an ad blocker paid for it. This has massive consequences for this with advertising-supported business models.

I’ve articulated before my conviction that free-with-ads business models may become things of the past. They certainly are no longer viable in emerging markets. Companies will need to advertise in new ways. Perhaps this is where in-app advertising works for things like Snapchat, Facebook, or Twitter. It’s not looking good for Google though. In fact, this tweet sums up what may be a central part of the internet experience going forward.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

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