The Next Billion Mobile Users May Be Invisible To Advertisers


  • The use of ad blocking browsers in mobile devices almost doubled in 2015.
  • New ad blocking technologies can also intercept in-app advertising.
  • Ad blocking is disrupting the traditional Web advertising model, and investors should be cautious about companies dependent on advertising.

A new report on mobile ad blocking by PageFair suggests that the next billion of mobile users in emerging markets will be mostly invisible to advertisers. PageFair has found that use of ad blocking technology has skyrocketed in emerging markets. This calls into question the long-term growth strategies of companies such as Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) that are actively seeking the "next billion(s)" of mobile device users in emerging markets.

Source: PageFair

Where the Action Is

Following the development of extensions for Apple's (AAPL) iOS browser, Safari, that enable ad blocking, I wrote some articles about the technology with a focus on iOS and the possible impact to Google. What's interesting about the PageFair report is that iOS devices don't seem to be where the real growth is in ad blocking. The report indicates that about 20% of the estimated 1.9 billion mobile device users employ some form of ad blocking tech, but the vast majority are concentrated in emerging markets, where iOS has fairly low usage share.

PageFair also points out that about 36% of users in the Asia-Pacific region now employ an ad-blocking browser. In contrast, there have only been about 4.5 million downloads of ad blocking apps for iOS through March 2016.

In my article, I had pointed out that with the growth of ad-blockers, as well as ways to defeat ad blockers, the Internet was being turned into a two tier medium. In the upper tier, subscription based ad-free services would appeal to more developed and affluent regions. Users of subscription services wouldn't need ad blockers.

The lower tier would be advertising based and "free to all". The growth of ad-blocking usage in the developing world seems to confirm this stratification of Internet usage.

In the past year, there have also been technology developments that

This article was written by

Mark Hibben profile picture
Balanced, expert investing strategies from a technologist's perspective
Mark has a masters in Electrical Engineering from USC, is an independent iOS developer, and blogs about technology trends and companies, the focus of his investments.

Disclosure: I am/we are long AAPL. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Recommended For You

Comments (90)

To ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, please enable Javascript and cookies in your browser.
Is this happening to you frequently? Please report it on our feedback forum.
If you have an ad-blocker enabled you may be blocked from proceeding. Please disable your ad-blocker and refresh.