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UK Media Ad Blocking and Privacy Briefing June 2017

There is so much happening in the ad blocking and privacy space that we thought it timely to provide an update. Not least of which is Google’s introduction of its own Ad Blocker next year and Apple’s upcoming AI driven privacy protection.

Ad blocking and Privacy
Ad blocking and Privacy

Apple and Google both make big plays in ad blocking and privacy, will impact ad revenues

Have your media brand sites audited for ad blocking and privacy protection, if not you simply won't know how it's affecting your business

UK Gov computers exposed by not running ad blockers and privacy tools

Google introduces Ad Blocking


Some big developments in Ad Blocking this past month. Most significantly the news that Google is going to be launching its own ad blocker built into Chrome in 2018. Their goal is to clean up ’bad ads’ and only permit ’good ones’ encouraging best practice and the general reduction in ’the audience’ installing blockers.


In certain ways this will help, and is likely to reduce the pain that many sites inflict on their audience by having popups or video ads on repeat. Overall though it puts more power into Google’s hands and is a big call for regulation of Google and the overall digital ad delivery sector.



Ad Blocking versus Privacy Protection


Google’s ad blocking move, by itself, is unlikely to help much with the persistent and overwhelming tracking that goes on with 3rd party ad services and ads (beyond simply not displaying the worst ads). Google’s ad blocker might prevent some unsavoury ads from showing, but your personal data will still be captured and broadly shared, if you do not have a privacy shield in place such as Ghostery, or Firefox Focus.


Apple introduces Privacy AI into Safari


One of the highlights of yesterday’s Apple WWDC17 keynotes was without doubt the introduction of AI to combat 3rd party tracking, which has now reached epidemic degrees. The fact that it’s baked into Safari means that all iPhone, iPad and Mac users will have greatly improved privacy. This will also potentially have a big impact on sales and marketing automation, as well as all martech in general.


For the consumer it’s a big step forward against a tide of tracking and sharing of personal data which has all been one way for too long now.

Apple Safari AI Tracking Blocker
Apple Safari AI Tracking Blocker

Affino June Ad Blocking Audit Results

Affino provide a free ad blocking and privacy audit service, which can be found on For more details see here. It provides you with a weekly rolling ad blocking audit dashboard which we then aggregate to identify ad blocking and privacy trends.


We are not seeing big changes in the overall ad blocking rates on the UK media brands we are monitoring. In fact if anything our overall ad blocking detection rates have declined in aggregate this year. Mainly though this is because we are now tracking more government / public focused media brands where the levels of blocking are as low as 5% versus B2B and B2C brands where they are more typically in the 15% to 25% range.


Instead of the overall blocking levels, our focus has shifted to the individual brands themselves for now, and we’ll evolve the aggregate metrics further into categories moving ahead.


Ad Blocking on UK Media Brand Sites


Of the brands we monitor, there is an incredibly broad range of blocking, depending on brand and audience, ranging from 4.97% to 49.03%. At the top or this range, any ad or data driven business will be badly affected and must take immediate action to protect its future revenues and marketing channels.


At the lower end you have more time to react to the increasing level of blocking and privacy protection, especially if you are public sector or government focused. This does raise though the big issue that we are seeing extremely low levels of privacy and ad blocking usage on Government sites, leaving UK Gov computers vulnerable to malware / malvertisement.


Given what we’ve just been through with the the NHS malware fiasco, privacy and malvertisement blocking should be installed on every government computer.

NHS Cyber Attack
NHS Cyber Attack

In just the past three months, some brands have seen blocking rates rise by 8%, i.e. from 25% to 33%, whereas others have seen smaller rises of 3% to 4%, and a few no increase whatsoever. This reinforces how critical a community or market may be to the overall levels of blocking that you are experiencing.


Frequently, as brands grow their presence and become more international we’re seeing higher overall blocking rates as they grow their presence in markets with higher levels of blocking than in the UK.


Mobile Ad Blocking and Privacy on the Up


We are seeing consistent, steady rises in the Mobile ad blocking levels of around 0.5% per month this year. It may not seem much, but it means that mobile ad blocking is now overall at 8%, a significant rise from the 2% to 3% level we were seeing a year ago.


What has been more dramatic is the level we’re seeing on some brands, where mobile ad blocking has reached 38%, something that we did not expect to see for years. What is extreme about those mobile blocking levels is that those sites just a year ago were only on the 3% level.


What has also been interesting is that where the blocking has been very low traditionally for PC users on certain brands, as the mobile part of the audience increasingly uses ad blockers we’re actually seeing parity on blocking between mobile and PC. This is a big shift and a trend worth keeping an eye on as it might mean that for the first time blocking might go up in aggregate based on mobile traffic, whereas so far it has had the big net effect in the UK of keeping the overall levels lower.


If you want to know more about the level of ad blocking on your digital brands, and the trends affecting them or you know a company who you think will benefit from our ad blocking audit, then get in touch. Details below.

Markus Karlsson Profile

Markus Karlsson, CEO | Founder, Affino

20 years of digital business experience with: Audi, BBC, Casio, Diesel, EMI, MasterCard, Rovio, UBM, UMG, and now Gill, Procurement Leaders, Briefing Media, Ocean Media, and IDG. Lead consultant for digital business transformation.


Email or Call +44 (0)20 3393 3240

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2014 PPA Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Business Media Brand of the Year (Again!)
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2013 PPA Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Business Media Brand of the Year
2013 PPA Digital Publishing Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Business Media Digital Brand of the Year