One of the constant justifications we have heard from the ad blocking crowd is that ad blockers still represent just a small percentage of overall web users. And to be fair, in some countries this is still true.
But don’t try and tell that to German publishers: Almost 40% of German web users are using ad blocking software. And that number continues to grow.
Put another way, publishers are now successfully monetizing just over 60% of their web traffic via advertising.
One has to ask: Is there a tipping point at which a majority of publishers can no longer offer the web for free? And if so, what is it?
MondayNote.com attributes the higher percentages in Germany to two causes:
Along with The Netherlands, the German market is by far the most affected one by the ad blocking phenomenon. There, ad block use approaches 40% of the internet population. The reasons for the epidemic are unclear, but two elements are likely to play a role. First, AdBlock Plus (ABP), the most popular ad blocking software, has its roots in Cologne. Second, a cultural factor: German opposition to online advertising that manifests itself in the government’s obsessive anti-Google stance pushed by large media conglomerates such as Axel Springer SE.
“This trend has serious implications for the sustainability of free media”
I’m not so sure how much the government’s anti-Google stance has to do with AdBlock’s popularity, as Eyeo has now penned whitelist deals with Google anyway. But either way, 40% is a deeply troubling number for the German (and Dutch) markets. This is no longer an exploit belonging to a fringe digerati. This trend has serious implications for the sustainability of free media.
Perhaps most troubling is that AdBlocking has only just begun to bridge the gap to mobile internet traffic. Given that mobile web users have a higher motivation to block ads (as mobile users often pay a rate based on their traffic totals) it is likely that adoption among mobile users will be even higher than desktop users.