Adblock Plus and (a little) more

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.

Comment [10]

  1. anon · 2017-05-31 15:25 · #

    So, I have a Windows 10 mobile device. How can I block ads?

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Adblock Browser (our solution) is currently only on iOS and Android, but you can download Adblock Plus for Firefox mobile.

  2. Michael · 2017-06-01 00:16 · #

    Ben Williams:

    Mobile adblocking growth is accelerating in Britain, It’s being spearheaded by the teenagers. Tv News reports of German media companies taking ABP to court, catapulted ABP into the mainstream. Apple’s announcement, allowing adblocking into the App Store created a stampede.

    It’s only a matter of time, mobile versions will match or overtake their desktop cousins.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thanks. I suppose the kernel of what you’re saying is what we realized when we saw the results, i.e. people just need to know they can do it/we and other blockers need to evangelize our products more.

  3. anon · 2017-06-01 10:13 · #

    @Ben Williams. Thanks, but Firefox mobile is not available on Windows phones.

    Do you know if Microsoft has plans to allow Edge addons on Windows 10 mobile?

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Hey anon, from all we know it doesn’t look like they will. Sorry.

  4. Ian · 2017-06-02 02:49 · #

    Is there any advantage in using AdBlock Browser over the AdBlock Plus add-on for Firefox Mobile? Any disadvantage?

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    I think it’s just a matter of personal taste. We’ve got great things in store for Adblock Browser for Android and iOS, which would sway me, personally, in that direction — but that’s just me of course.

  5. Michael · 2017-06-04 22:38 · #

    Ben Williams:

    Google has announced, it will help websites to block adblockers in 2018.

    Thank you for creating the original Adblock plus for Android. I’ve side loaded that app on many Androids. Truly adds privacy, adblocking protection. Please Mr Williams, keep that app alive. ABP browser, add on for Android Firefox is installed on every device. Perfect Swiss Army knife for removing ads.

    Ps. Please add script blocking for Adblock Plus browser(IOS).

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Hey Michael,
    Glad you dig ABP on so many devices. We’ll see what happens with Chrome — right now it just appears they want to add a blocker to Chrome by default. Could be something like a popup blocker, so there will still be a need for ABP and other blockers if you want to block more than just the most annoying stuff.

  6. Michael · 2017-06-04 23:10 · #

    Apologies! I assumed Windows 10 mobile supported adblocking. There’s a project called Pihole, dns adblocking that runs on a Raspberry Pi or any other Debian Linux. I can confirm this works very well for windows mobile devices.

  7. Michael · 2017-06-04 23:52 · #


    Pihole converts a Raspberry Pi or Linux into a system wide Dns adblocker. Automatically update it’s lists, you can add more block lists.

    The idea is based on device called Adtrap. Check out the link above.

  8. Michael · 2017-06-06 20:42 · #

    I certainly won’t be using Google’s “Adblocker”, you can bet that Doubleclick will not be on their blacklist. Any of their own ads for that matters. Tracking users will continue as usual.

    ABP is staying on my devices! Google’s “Adblocker” is akin to putting the Fox in charge of the chicken house.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thanks, Michael! Don’t think you’ll be alone ;)

  9. Ryan · 2017-06-07 03:40 · #

    Adblock prevents certain domains or subdomains from loading advertisements. It blocks traffic coming from servers associated with advertisements, and disables certain scripts associated with advertisements.

  10. json formatter · 2017-07-06 09:16 · #

    Many users are not aware they can block ads on mobile devices!

Commenting is closed for this article.