Ad Blockers Are Changing The Digital Advertising Landscape

Digital natives, with time, have gained more control over their digital experience, and thus this results in a noticeable correlation with the increase in the application of ad blockers.

This is not novel news, the advertising industry has seen a consistent increase in the implementation of ad blockers, ranging 21M users to 180M users in the last 9 years.

The US itself has seen a little over 75M users adopting ad blockers on their browsers.

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And it makes sense – digital natives are comfortable with technology and used to making it work to their ends.

But what does that mean for digital advertisers and their clients?

What Are Ad Blockers?

Ad blockers (otherwise known as content blockers) are software programs that allow users to prevent ads from being showcased on websites.

They usually take the form of browser add-ons, that can be added onto Safari, Firefox or Chrome. Despite there being multiple alternatives, the most renowned on the market is AdBlock Plus.

By removing ads from webpages, page loads time can improve considerably and can also reduce data usage – something that is good news for people with limited data plans or who live in areas with slower networks.

An additional benefit of ad blockers is that they are capable of blocking the technology that tracks and monitors behaviours in order to profile user behavior.

As someone who doesn’t want online browsing to be monitored, or someone who doesn’t want their browsing preferences sold to advertisers, by using adblockers you can safeguard your own privacy.

Who Are Digital Natives?

The term Digital Native describes a person who grew up in the digital age. These are children, now young adults, who rather than having to learn about technology as adults, grew up with it from childhood.

This exposure to technology in their formative years means that digital natives have a greater familiarity and understanding of technology than the generation that came before them.

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So Why Is This Important?

Taking the micro-view of the situation, it doesn’t seem like that big a deal. So what if users are blocking ads on their browsers? Shouldn’t users have a choice as to what they want to ingest on the internet?

And the answer is yes, of course. But if you take a step back and look at the macro-view, you start to see the long-term impact that the adoption of ad blockers can have.

Large numbers of websites on the internet exist in part thanks to online advertising. Blogs to news sites depend largely on online advertising revenues.

The revenues brought in from advertising, allow for the sites to pay for writers that create the content displayed on the site, pay for the costs associated with hosting, and for the maintenance as well.

This basic model is in fact what allowed Google to make its billions of dollars; users visit a site they enjoy, click on ads for products they find interesting and the site owner gets his due from the purchase.

Meanwhile, the product seller is able to achieve their aim of selling the product and the user is able to purchase what is of interest to them. It’s a win-win.

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Ad blockers disrupt all of this. A person with an ad blocker add-on installed on their browser could visit whatever site they like and never see an ad.

If they never see the ad, they can’t click on it nor can they buy what the ad is selling – that means that the site owner doesn’t get their money and the product seller can’t sell their product.

This little extension added to your browser is having an impact on the keystone piece of the whole modern internet experience.

What Can Advertisers and Business Owners Do?

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Though there is a wave of panic for advertisers and their clients globally, there is still some good news:

  • Users have elucidated what they consider to be intrusive ads, therefore by adjusting your strategy and ensuring it’s not too aggressive, irrelevant or intrusive, then you are not going to get blocked
  • Data management is being reviewed seriously by users, and users are now expecting sites they visit to be more trustworthy
  • Users are willing to undo ad blocking on sites that are giving them content they want.

This information can be used by responsible advertisers to ensure that their advertising strategy employs tactics that won’t chase away their visitors and potential customers. That means:

  • Adhering to non-disruptive ads. This suggests that there should be no pop-ups, no auto-playing ads with disruptive noise, no prestitial ads with a countdown, no large sticky ads
  • Adhering to a website data policy and being transparent regarding what visitors can expect when it boils down to tracking cookies and data storage, and more
  • Creating excellent content that makes visitors want to support your site and prompting them to turn-off their ad blockers to read further.


A large part of the digital population is continuously going to be made up of Digital Natives. This means assuaging their concerns in regards to their privacy and their digital experience, will become more critical.

For businesses that work with digital marketing consultants, using the consultants to ensure their online presence avoids friction with visitors, will allow businesses to gain a better foothold in the changing demographics.

All firms unwilling to address this new reality will take a hit to their bottomline, eventually.

Credit to Cecilia Decima from the WSI Network and you can follow them @wsiworld