Are Ad Blockers the End of Online Advertising?

By Bob West

A co-worker who decided I needed something else to worry about sent me the latest eMarketer research into ad blocker use, and you can see their six key charts here. The headline news from the data is that ad blocker use is projected to grow 24% in 2017, thereby pushing the number of U.S. ad blocker users north of 86 million.

There’s no two ways about it – the rise of ad blockers represents a disconcerting trend for marketers. But the real story (especially for those of you in agriculture and horticulture) is a little more complex than the simple ‘ad-blockers-climbing, sky-is-falling, end-of-digital-advertising’ concern I hear about.

Consider the following:

  1. Ad blocker use on our websites remains very low. Below you can see the metrics from our own Google Analytics data for the first 6 months of 2017. Only about 5% of our website visitors currently employ ad blockers. That doesn’t mean we can ignore this issue, but it means that ad blockers are not really limiting our clients’ ability to deliver their ads via our websites.
Website % of Sessions with Ad Blockers Turned ON 4.6% 3.4% 4.9% 5.3% 4.7% 6.6% 7.3%
  1. The growth of ad blocker use on our websites is flat. We’ve seen very little increase in the percentage of sessions where ad blockers are employed on our websites since we’ve been recording data. Perhaps, like other digital media trends, our markets are just late adopters. We’ll see. But, the age of our audience may be part of the story, too. Our average website visitor is between 55 and 60 years old, which makes sense given the age of our magazine readers and of the business owners and managers in the markets we serve. According to eMarketer, pop-up blocker use is highest among millennials – 64% of those age 18 to 24 use this software. That group really doesn’t represent a key part of our overall audience.
  1. Content-oriented ads aren’t blocked and perform very well for our clients. We began offering native ads in 2016 and introduced our online image/text ad unit at the start of 2017. One benefit of both offerings is that these ads aren’t blocked by the ad blocking software on the market. (The bigger benefit is the strong click-through engagement both ad units offer, which quickly made them among on our more popular ad offerings.) So, we do have ad offerings for those clients particularly concerned about ad blockers’ limiting their ability to deliver their message.

Ultimately, yes, ad blockers are one more thing for me to worry about, and they are something any marketer should consider, too. However, our view is that their use remains minor enough among our audiences that our clients don’t need to make any widespread changes to their marketing strategies at this point. We’ll let you know if that changes.

Bob West is Meister Media’s Commercial Digital Director, and he can be reached at 440-602-9129 or