Pre-Roll Video Ads a Leading Catalyst to Ad-Blocking Growth

Study: Ad Blocking Is a Force to be Reckoned With

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The number of those using ad-blocking technology is on the rise.
The number of those using ad-blocking technology is on the rise.

A new Wells Fargo Securities report put ad blocking right alongside viewability as a top challenge facing the digital publishing ecosystem.

The report asked whether ad blocking is an existential threat or "just a 'Europe thing'" and netted out somewhere in the middle: "We believe the rapid rise in ad-blocking behavior represents another growing challenge for publishers and worthy of further consideration," it said.

A good amount of blame belongs to pre-roll video advertising, the report said. It argued that while banner ads are tolerable to most, pre-roll ads are "far more irritating to the average internet user and are acting as a motivator for increased ad-blocking behavior." This is particularly true, the report said, in cases where users get a poor value exchange, such as when a 30 second ad is shown before 90 seconds of content.

The report cited an estimate from ClarityRay that 9% of ads are actively blocked, and noted that ad blocking technology's adoption rate is likely to expand due to the higher rates of usage among young people. But it did point to one bit of good news found in the growth of mobile content consumption. Ad blocking, it said, faces adoption issues on mobile devices, especially in app stores, the central battle grounds.

"Our work leads us to conclude that the power that Google and Apple are able to exert over their respective ad ecosystems (through limitation of access to their app stores) affords them the ability to limit the adoption of third-party apps designed to block ads," the report said.

Ad blocking is primarily a publisher concern, hitting premium publishers especially hard, the report said. Those publishers with more video and less mobile inventory are at a higher risk of getting hurt by the rise of ad blocking, the report said.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story attributed a figure to the IAB. Wells Fargo's report cited an estimate from ClarityRay that 9% of ads are actively blocked.

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