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UK publishers losing increasing amounts of revenue to ad-blocking despite decline in blocking levels, new research shows

Publishers in the UK are losing increasing amounts of revenue to ad-blocking despite a year-on-year decline in the rate of blocking, according to new research.

Trade body the Association for Online Publishing audited 14 of its members over two years, from the start of 2016 to the end of 2017, to reveal the latest ad-blocking trends and its effects on publishers.

AOP members include Evening Standard and Independent publisher ESI Media, The Guardian, The Telegraph, and magazine publisher Condé Nast (GQ, Vogue, Tatler, Vanity Fair, Wired etc.).

The results showed overall ad blocking levels peaked in the second quarter of 2016 at 12.6 per cent and have since fallen to a low of 11.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2017.

The average rate last year was 11.6 per cent, compared to 12.3 per cent in 2016, AOP’s report said.

Among publishers able to separate performance by device, the analysis identified a gradual reduction in the rate of ad-blocking on desktop to three in ten impressions across the last three quarters of 2017.

Ad-blocking on mobile devices is lower, but doubled across the two-year period to 1.3 per cent by the end of 2017.

According to the audit, estimated lost revenue as a result of blocked ads continues to grow.

Across the AOP members audited, an estimated total of £13.7m was lost in 2017 – a 27 per cent rise in total lost revenue compared to the year before.

The average (median) annual individual publisher revenue loss across this period is £627,996, the AOP said.

AOP managing director Richard Reeves said: “These latest statistics confirm the general view across the industry that ad blocking rates have plateaued, although there is a gradual increase in its usage on mobile – which again will not come as a surprise.

“The audit, however, does clearly demonstrate that ad blocking continues to have an impact on publisher revenue and the issue remains high on the agenda for our members.

“We are continuing to monitor the trend and are working with our members and industry partners to drive home the need for a collaborative and considered approach to education surrounding an ad-funded internet.”

The Advertising Association reported that total internet advertising grew to £11.5bn in the UK in 2017.

Paywalls have been appearing among online publishers in a direct bid to combat the rise of ad-blocking software and protect advertising revenue.

In November last year, financial news website Business Insider launched a paywall that asked readers using ad-blocking software to pay to remove adverts or whitelist the website (and so see ads) in order to access content.

Business newsbrand City AM now forces ad-block users to either whitelist the website or pay  up to 50p a day for access.

The Yorkshire Post, owned by regional publisher Johnston Press, last month asked readers to register in order to continue reading its content online ad free, or whitelist the website to access it with ads but without registering.

Picture: Pixabay

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