Fears of adblocking ‘epidemic’ as report forecasts almost 15m UK users next year

Almost 30% of British web users will use adblocking software by the end of next year, according to a report that warns of a potential “epidemic”.

It predicts that the end of next year, 14.7 million Britons will software to strip advertising from web pages.

The report, by eMarketer, plots the rapid growth of internet users installing adblocking software in recent years.

In 2014, just 9.5% of UK internet users, at that time about 5 million, had installed adblocking software.

That will have doubled to 18.5%, some 11 million, by the end of this year.

By the end of 2017, almost 15 million internet users, 27% of an estimated 54.4 million UK web users, will use an adblocker.

“Once seen as the preserve of the tech-savvy, early adopters and gamers, adblocking has now moved into the mainstream,” said Bill Fisher, senior analyst at eMarketer. “There is no doubting that adblocking is now a very real issue for advertisers.”

The report suggests that adblocking will continue, for now at least, largely contained to desktop computers.

A breakdown shows that by the end of next year, 24% of those who use a desktop computer or laptop will have installed adblocking software, while 8.8% of smartphone users will have done so.

Among those who use adblocking software, about 90% do so on desktops and laptops. About 28% block ads on smartphones.

The total is more than 100% because some users block ads on multiple devices.

“The good news is that numbers like this have forced those within the industry to think long and hard about what it is that they need to do better in order that this practice doesn’t become an epidemic,” Fisher said.

In March, a report by the Internet Advertising Bureau estimated UK adblocking was already at 22% among over-18s, a higher rate than eMarketer’s.

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