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June 29, 2016

How Much is Ad Blocking Really Costing Websites?

Like its name states, an ad blocker is a program that removes the advertising that its user can expect to encounter when they are online. As a result, the term encompasses a wide range of programs that serve their shared purpose through a wide range of means. For example, some ad blockers are meant to be used with specific browsers such as Chrome, Safari and Mozilla Firefox, while other ad blockers are meant to be used with specific OSes such as Windows and OS X. Furthermore, some ad blockers are standalone programs, some ad blockers are add-ons for other programs and some ad blockers are features included in other programs. Finally, it should be noted that ad blockers can use a wide range of methods to perform their intended functions as well, with common examples ranging from the blocking of Adobe Flash to the deletion of cookies. Summed up, it is clear that an ad blocker is called an ad blocker because of its purpose rather than how it is meant to serve that precise purpose.

Given the sheer number of ad blockers that exist out there, it is difficult to describe all of them. Instead, it is much easier to mention some of the most popular. For example, AdBlock is an ad blocker for Chrome, Safari and Opera as well as some iPads and iPhones in recent times. Since it comes free of charge, it should come as no surprise to learn that it is a popular choice for the users of those browsers. Likewise, AdBlock Plus is available for an even wider range of browsers, but has lost some of its users because of participation in the Acceptable Ads program. Finally, uBlock Origin started out as a response to AdBlock Plus’s participation in the Acceptable Ads program, but has earned a following through its customization options as well as its simpler, less resource-intensive operation.

Why Are Ad Blockers Seeing More and More Use?

More and more people are choosing to use ad blockers because they are sick of being bombarded by ads. In short, most ads cause minimal disruption to the people visiting the sites putting them up, but some ads are so obtrusive that they actually detract from the user experience. Something that is particularly common when they are not limited to texts and pictures, but also make extensive use of sounds and videos, which are not just obtrusive but also cause slowdowns because of the computing resources used to load them.

Furthermore, it is important to note that some people choose to use ad blockers because they are concerned about potential attempts to break into their computers and steal the sensitive information stored on them launched through ads. After all, while legitimate advertisers such as Google will do their best to screen their clients to prevent the distribution of potentially malicious material, they can slip up from time to time; Never mind how not all ads come from legitimate advertisers. By installing ad blockers, they can not just make their computers better-protected but also gain peace of mind from knowing that their computers are better-protected, which can be much more important than it sounds.

With that said, it is important to note that ad blockers come with their fair share of problems as well. For example, there is evidence showing that ad blockers can keep some useful websites from doing what they are supposed to do because the mechanisms used for ad blocking cannot always distinguish between desirable and undesirable content. As a result, people who have installed ad blockers as a way of making their user experience as smooth as possible can actually hinder themselves in the process, though it should be noted that this is much more of an inconvenience than an insurmountable problem.

What Are Ad Blockers Costing Websites?

Needlessly to say, websites have some objections to ad blockers as well. After all, a lot of website owners monetize their websites through the use of ads. When their ads are not being seen because of ad blockers, they lose out on that advertising revenue, which can have some rather serious consequences for their income statements. In fact, the practice of ad blocking is believed to have cost them close to $22 billion in 2015, which should be particularly concerning to them because the practice of ad blocking is also believed to have increased its number of users by 41 percent in the same year. Should this trend continue, it seems probable that the website owners’ stream of advertising revenues will dry up into a trickle, thus removing an important source of their funding.

With that said, it is interesting to note that the practice of ad blocking has not affected all advertisers to the same extent. For example, it seems that mobile advertisers have been insulated from the effects to a much greater extent than their counterparts, which could be because mobile platforms are still so new that the people behind ad blockers have not had enough time to make the needed adjustments. However, considering that the people behind ad blockers are all pouring their time and effort into making their products usable on mobile devices as well as personal computers, it seems probable that ad blocking will become a problem for mobile advertisers as well as their counterparts.

Further Considerations

In the end, it is difficult to say what will happen in the future as ad blocking continues to become more and more popular because advertisers are just as clever and inventive as those who are interested in blocking their efforts. This can seen in how they have managed to convince some of the people behind ad blockers to adopt the Acceptable Ads program, which will let in ads from the most trusted sources in exchange for a portion of the advertising revenues. Naturally, this creates its own set of complications, meaning that there is sure to be plenty of developments for interested individuals to latch onto in the years to come.


Nat Berman is the co-founder of BC Media Group. Berman currently handles strategic development, oversees the operation of BC Media Group’s owned and operated properties and writes for the company blog. During the past several years Berman has built extensive relationships with hundreds of premium online publishers and has strong ties to marketing outlets and social networking.