Online and mobile ad blocking is a topic making marketers and online product providers very nervous. Apple recently received a lot of attention for the next versions of its iOS and OS X operating systems that will make it much easier for developers to create ad-blocking extensions to its Safari web browser (which is still, by the way, not high ranking in web browser preference).
Ad-blocking company Adblock Plus will make it easier for entire organizations to block ads for all their users behind the firewall, citing the benefits of bandwidth savings and reducing ad-embedded malware downloads. However, the irony is probably not lost on most that these are likely the same companies seeking to increase the reach, engagement, and conversion of their own online advertising efforts – while also interested in studying their competitors’ ad strategies as well.
This report is not of the Henny Penny/Chicken Little variety for advertisers, though. After all, when you ask consumers about future intent about such topics, you are bound to get a preponderance of responses that look something like this in their answer choices:
- “I plan to exercise more this year”
- “I am going to save more money each month”
- “I’m going to quit Facebook” (Even I’ve been guilty of that one, but they’ve got me.)
And we certainly see some degree of that when we ask consumers about mobile ad blocking intent:
Even though the top-line data suggests that 40% of U.S. adults who own a mobile device say they are “very likely” to install ad-blocking software, this is when it’s best to resist the Chicken Little urge. Instead, let’s pull back the layers, using a mix of cross-tabbing against other questions in our InsightStore™ and get a more optimistically realistic picture amidst the headlines that are worrying advertisers:
- Age: Good news for advertisers targeting younger consumers… Those “not at all likely” to install mobile ad blocking are 38% more likely to be under 25 and 33% more likely to be 25-29. Those on the fence (somewhat likely) index slightly higher among middle-aged adults (30-54), so there is still opportunity to persuade them either way.
- Gender: Women are a little less inclined to say they are “very likely” to install a mobile ad blocker, and let’s face it – advertisers love women.
- Mobile Payments: Those who are “not at all likely” to install ad blocking are 77% more likely than the rest to say they use their phone to make mobile payments.
- Mobile Banking: Those who are “not at all likely” to install mobile ad blocking are much more likely (+56%) to conduct more than 50% of their retail banking using their mobile device.
- Research on Smartphones: Those who are “not at all likely” to install mobile ad blocking are much more likely to very frequently use their smart phone to research products they want to purchase (+62%).
- Second Screening: The non-blockers are 21% more likely to be viewing mobile apps, games or other content when they are watching a TV show.
- Financial Situation: Those “not at all likely” are 25% more likely to feel that their personal financial situation will get better in the next 6 months.
- Employment Status: Those who are “not at all likely” are 16% more likely to be currently employed.
What we see from that sampling of insights is that the “mobile power user” is not likely to be as concerned about blocking ads on their devices, perhaps contrary to what one might expect at first blush. But thinking about it more, this correlation makes a lot of sense – using mobile devices to support more types of transactions, research, and communication also means you are hoping to receive information about good deals, new offers, and new brands and products that you are likely to care about. The mobile power user likely wouldn’t want to shut off that channel of information and opportunity. They also tout a higher employment rate than average and feel financially optimistic.
Those who are more likely to ad-block while mobile tend to not use those devices to their full potential, and are more likely using mobile phones for the basics (texting, phone calls, email checking, checking the weather, etc.) – in other words, things that probably don’t expose them to much or any advertising today anyway.
We hope that these insights – which we believe are unexpected but very eye-opening from our sample of 3,389 studied U.S. adults in late June 2015 – help advertisers think differently about their mobile strategy and audience targeting.