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Adblock usage on mobile platforms is on the rise according to the New York Times.

A 2016 report by Pagefair details the specifics of the problem. 22% of the world’s 1.9 billion smartphone users – that’s at least 419 million people – are adblocking on mobile devices. 408 million people are running browsers that specifically allow adblocking. Software on mobile devices has advanced enough that both web browser ads and in-app ads can now be blocked.

One of the major contributing factors is mobile web browsers such as Firefox that allow the addition of plugins such as Adblock Plus or uBlock Origin. Opera Mini for Android recently released an opt-in ability to natively block ads in the browser, and other browsers and apps are coming onto the market frequently. Pagefair identified 229 different content-blocking apps on the iOS app store.

In June, British cell provider Three UK will be running an adblocking test across its entire network that will permit any user to block ads on their phones. Caribbean cell provider Digicell is already running such a service for their customers. Experts related to the New York Times that blocking ads at the carrier level may violate net neutrality rules. However, adblocking has yet to be seriously challenged in any major court.

The majority of adblocking smartphone users are located in Asia. Although Asia only has 55% of the world’s smartphones, they account for 93% of the world’s adblocking. This means that a bit over one out of every three Asian smartphone users now block ads.

Adblock users in the West are comparatively small in number. The United States only has 2.3 million adblock users on mobile. Great Britain and France are tied at 1.3 million each, and Germany has only 1.1 million. However, these numbers are likely to rise as worldwide adblocking on smartphones has increased 90% since 2015.


Quick Take

I recently began using Firefox on mobile because it allowed me to install the uBlock Origin plugin. I understand ads are important for keeping the lights on – heck, I write for a site that’s supported by ads. That said, the level of danger and annoyance that comes with mobile ads hearkens back to the mid 2000s. We’re talking ads saying “my battery has a virus” and attempting to install an .apk or constantly creating new pop-ups. If ad providers don’t get mobile ads under control the rate of adblocking will just get worse.

Do you use adblocking software on your mobile device? Do you think ads are worse on mobile or on desktop? Let us know in the comments below!


Robert N. Adams

Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!