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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!

  • Tleno

    Okay, now we just need a plugin that blocks email subscription, cookie usage disclosure and dedicated browsing app banners and popups, and browsing on mobile will be perfectly fine.

  • webkilla

    This is a good thing

  • Travis

    Good. Maybe now I’ll be able to visit a wikia page on my phone without the page being covered by an unclosable grey box.

  • SevTheBear

    Yeah I don’t feel bad using it on some websites. Many sites are spamming you with ads like it was the last day on earth to earn money

  • Lepito

    Adblocking is a problem the advertising companies created themselves. As ads became more and more obnoxious it’s no wonder people started looking into ways to block them. The problem as I see it is threefold:

    1. Ads are misleading and/or inappropriate. I’m no prude but if I’m web browsing in public, especially on my phone, the last thing I want people to see on my screen is inappropriate content and more often than not this comes from ads. It doesn’t help when so many of these are blatantly misleading or for very sketchy products or services.

    2. Ads are obnoxious. Video ads, animated ads are all distracting and especially on mobile take up extra bandwidth and slow down the loading of pages. If you want to keep your sanity and have the smoothest browsing experience then blocking these is a no brainer. Your ad should be a static image that isn’t so distracting that it’s an eyesore on the rest of the page, and i should know from the second I look at it that it’s an ad.

    3. Ads are unsafe. Even if you don’t know the specifics about how insecure ads can be you’ve probably heard plenty of horror stories over the years. It’s no wonder that there’s always been rampant paranoia and unease about tracking, privacy, and the security problems ads pose. Ad companies are hardly ever transparent or vigilant about the content they serve from the public’s point of view and they’ve made little to no attempt to rectify the misunderstandings with real, verifiable and reassuring information about how advertising on the internet works.

  • Nathaniel Plain

    I was completely fine running without any ad blocking software and plugins, but once I started to get more of those annoying popups that open up the Play or App Store or try to install third party software without my permission, I stopped being nice and started blocking every website. Visiting your website should not be an assault on my phone or my ability to quickly kill a new tab before the malicious ad has time to load.

  • Casey

    The number of times I’ve had a full screen, unclosable ad on my phone, or some virus warning message trying to make me download crap on the play store erases ALL sympathy I have for this crap.

    Make ads a problem and guess what, people will fix it.