Ad blockers, already popular on computers, are spreading to smartphones, as users rebel against slow-loading web pages and surveillance-driven marketing. As many as 35% of internet users in some countries are using them. Apple’s latest update to its smartphone operating system, released two weeks ago, lets users install ad blockers, and they have since dominated the download charts.
Blockers will wipe $22 billion off advertising revenue this year, according to a recent report. No wonder they are a hot topic at the annual Advertising Week conference, under way in New York. Some say they are unethical; others say they are illegal. But they are undoubtedly popular. Blocking is likely to accelerate a shakeout in free online services sustained by display advertising, and the shift towards “native advertising” (ads resembling articles). Its rise may also spur innovation in online-payment systems. That, at least, would be no bad thing.
First appeared on The Economist Espresso.