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Ad blocking statistics: December 2015

Mezzobit has been monitoring ad blocking activity across an array of sites over the past few months in an effort to help publishers better understand the details of how their most valuable visitors are using this technology.

Here are some quick stats that we’ve uncovered for data gathered during December:

  • 10.3% of visitors observed blocked one or more ads. As our dataset is tilted towards the US, when we normalize this for the number of Internet users per country, the rate rises to 13.0%.
  • Not surprisingly, desktop users blocked ads at a much higher rate (17.2%) than mobile users (1.2%).
  • There is not a significant different in blocking rates based on traffic source, with referrals from other sites having the highest rate (11.4%) and social traffic having the lowest (7.5%).
  • The blocking rates of popular ad units varied significantly, driven mainly by whether they are included in mobile responsive designs. Leaderboards (728×90) were blocked at 11.9%, with half page ads (300×600) at 15.6%, and medium rectangles (300×250) at 8.2%.

Publishers wishing to get a free analysis of their sites can sign up here. We’ll send along a detailed report with their own stats as well as push the metrics to their in-house analytics system (such as Google or Adobe) for deeper investigation in specific audience segments. Also included in this data is ad blocking stats for specific ad units and ad sizes, which helps publishers tie these activities to revenue loss, as well as session depth and repeat visitation. Other ad blocking posts can be found here.

More details about the December statistics are below. Read more>

Detecting ad blocking on WordPress: Announcing Mezzobit’s new plug-in

November 9, 2015

We’ve gotten great response to Mezzobit’s ad blocking metrics product, which feeds stats about blocking to publishers’ analytics systems to enable deeper analysis. We’re planning on releasing some detailed data on what we’re seeing across tens of millions of users globally. But in the interim, we wanted to make it even easier for publishers to get free insight into this growing issue.

So for the 19% of all websites that run WordPress, we have launched a free plug-in (downloadable here) that eliminates the need to make changes to templates. Simply provide a few pieces of information through our free registration process and you’ll receive a site ID. Enter this ID into the plug-in’s configuration screen, and once you validate your account, the data starts flowing. This plug-in does not interfere with page rendering, ad serving or ad-blocking extensions. It gathers data about whether ad blocking is detected on the page level, as well as whether specific ad units or sitewide ad sizes experience blocking.

You can use your familiar Google Analytics, Adobe SiteCatalyst or Piwik tools to analyze this data and correlate it with dozens of audience attributes such as referrer, geography, content consumption, and platform to understand exactly what your most valuable visitors are doing. Mezzobit will send you a free analysis of your data, comparing your results to the rest of our network (anonymously, of course). And if you want to go further and recover those lost ad impressions, we can develop a customized recovery plan that targets specific responses to audience segments.


To ban or not to ban: London newspaper clamps down on ad-blocking visitors

October 20, 2015

Last week, German publisher Axel Springer announced that they would enact a paywall for all visitors who use ad blockers. Now a UK newspaper has erected an even higher barrier to blocking users.

City AM, a free business-focused paper based in London, has a new policy that bars certain ad block users from view content beyond the homepage. An intercept is presented midway down the article page obscuring the text and imploring the visitor to disable the blocker. The program starts with Firefox users and will expand soon to other browsers. Company officials reported that about 20% of its 1.2 million monthly visitors use ad blocking.

These moves, likely to be followed by others, mirror the trend a digital generation ago when publishers attempted to erect content paywalls, only to be pushed back by users when traffic plummeted for all but the most premium sites. As margins have become tighter in recent years among legacy print medium, paywalls have seen a resurgence, but their effectiveness still is mainly limited to sites with premium brands or high-value content (such as business-to-business publishers).

Can inaction be a viable ad blocking strategy for publishers?

October 16, 2015

This post is part of our continuing blog series highlighting publisher best practices for ad blocking responses. In coming articles, Mezzobit will explore different strategies by drawing on examples from industry and unique intelligence from our platform. Publishers can sign up for a free trial of ad blocking analytics to start their own journey.

If you saw someone standing still in the middle of a railroad track with a train approaching full speed, you might ask, why are they doing nothing? And rightly so: it seems like a bad train avoidance strategy.

But what if they actually knew the train was about to change to a different track and pass them by. Doing nothing would seem like a well-calculated strategy. The same metaphor may hold true with ad blocking, but it depends on having intelligence related to blocking.

There are a couple of reasons why a publisher may choose to do nothing:

Publisher best practices for addressing ad blocking

October 15, 2015

“We messed up” is how the IAB recently acknowledged the industry’s involvement in the rise of ad blocking, which threatens billions in revenue for publishers.

This mea culpa was accompanied by the announcement of the IAB’s L.E.A.N. Ads program, which was intended to set expectations among consumers, publishers and advertisers regarding a higher quality user experience.

While there has been a crescendo of press recently, the issue isn’t new. Ad blocking in the US and Europe grew 48% and 35% respectively this year, with a total of 122 million consumers using blockers in these regions alone. With the recent release of Apple’s IOS 9, which has in-browser ad block, the problem is rapidly escalating in mobile as well. Mezzobit internal data shows that among major publishers, ad blocking varies in the 5-14% range, with the higher end typically seen by sites with larger international audiences (which use blocking more frequently).

Publishers have an array of choices on how to response to blocking, and we at Mezzobit feel that development of a strategy shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction. Rather, it should take into account both the root causes of why ad blocking occurred in the first place — which the IAB’s program is focusing on — as well as how to differentially respond to consumer behavior.

In the coming weeks, Mezzobit will publish a series of articles highlighting the best practices used by leading publishers, as well as some emerging trends on dealing with blocking. Among the response strategies that will be highlighted are:

  • Do nothing.
  • Engage in a conversation with the visitor about blocking using intercepts and messages.
  • Change the user experience, such as presentation of different editorial content, based on blocking behavior.
  • Implement paywall and content monetization strategies for visitors who block.
  • Serve alternate ad content that is acceptable to blockers and permit visitors some choice in which ads are presented.
  • Use more branded content and native advertising to create a more seamless experience.
  • Improve site performance to offset UX degradation caused by ads, with better policing of ad performance.
  • Subvert ad blockers through technology.
  • Pay whitelisting fees to ad blockers to enable certain ads to be shown.
  • Tailor different strategies to different audience segments with a healthy dose of experimentation.
  • Invert the difficulty of reaching blocking consumers into higher CPMs when they can be addressed by marketing messages.
  • Differentiate how blocking for display ads is treated differently from video.