Ad-blocking software has been in use on the web for more than a decade. Now it is mainstream and mobile. By some estimates more than 200m people use ad-blocking programs and the number is rising fast. Europeans are especially keen: ProSiebenSat.1, a German media group, claims that last year blocking cost it a fifth of its online revenue. On smartphones and tablets, where advertisers and publishers have had fewer problems so far, blockers are also spreading. Mobile browsers now come with blocking features; one, UC Browser, already boasts 500m users, mainly in China and India. Ads in apps are not safe either: Shine, an Israeli startup, has developed gear that sits in an operator’s network, to filter out any kind of ad. All this calls into question what has been, for better or for worse, the implicit deal on the internet: consumers get most services for free, but pay with their attention.
Originally published on The Economist Espresso