Report: Usage of mobile ad blockers jumped 90 percent last year to 419 million

Installation of ad blocking software on mobile devices has jumped 90 percent in the last year to 419 million devices, according to startling new data from analysis firm PageFair. Almost all of ad block users — 408 million — do so with the aid of browsers that come with ad blocking baked in automatically.

The report, released Tuesday, detailed how massive ad blocking is becoming especially on mobile where the software is used by twice as many people as it is on desktops — 198 million as of last March. In total, 22 percent of the world’s 1.9 billion smartphones are blocking ads and the figure is expected to grow.

Dr. Johnny Ryan, PageFair’s head of ecosystem, told Digiday that the report is a “wake up call” for any one that advertise on desktop and on mobile.

“The blocked web is growing, and marketers need to start thinking about how to reach consumers on the blocked web in a sustainable and respectful way,” he said.


Ad blockers are installed at much higher rates in in emerging countries, such as China, Indonesia and India to the tune of 319 million mobile users combined. In the U.S., Great Britain, France and Germany that number is just 7.4 million. The reason why ad blocking is so much more rampant in those developing markets is because “mobile data infrastructure is less developed and therefore slow and/or expensive relative to income,” the report said.

There are 408 million people using ad blockers that come automatically baked into their browsers, with AdBlock Plus’ browser, Brave and Alibaba-owned UC Browser, are consumers’ top three choices.

Facebook isn’t exempt, either. PageFair warned publishers and brands buying sponsored posts are “no longer immune” because third-party apps. “If history repeats itself then these apps will compete for marketshare on their ability to simplify the user experience by aggregating social feeds and culling in-feed advertising,” it said.

More in Media

YouTube is under fire again, this time over child protection

Adalytics Research asks, ‘Are YouTube advertisers inadvertently harvesting data from millions of children?’

Illustration of a puzzle that spells out the word 'media.'

Media Briefing: Publishers pump up per-subscriber revenue amid ad revenue declines

Publishers’ Q2 earnings reveal digital advertising is still in a tight spot, but digital subscriptions are picking up steam.

Lessons for AI from the ad-tech era: ‘We’re living in a memory-less world’

Experts reflect how the failures of social media and online advertising can help the industry improve the next era of innovation.