State of Ad-Blocking on OzBargain

Last month, after the iOS 9 release which included content-blocking mechanism for Safari, someone made this poll on OzBargain -- Dilemma: Ethics of Using Ad Removal Plugins. I am not going to discuss the ethical side of it (although I did wrote about it in the discussion thread). However I am interested to find out how the current state of ad-blocking is affecting OzBargain.

So I coded some detection function in Javascript and loaded on the site for 2 days. After analysing 1.5 million page views on OzBargain, here are some stats on the number of pages that are "ad-blocked".

Desktop 44.76%
Mobile 6.81%
Users 44.54%
Guests 29.66%

Overall around 32% of ad-invocations are blocked on OzBargain. Detection is done via Javascript that fires 3 seconds after DOM is ready. It would log "ad-blocked" if DOM elements for display ads are hidden (display: none via CSS for example). It would not be triggered if ads have been explicitly disabled from user-settings.

Some thoughts:

  • At 32% and almost 45% for desktop users, the percentage of ad-blocking users is shockingly high. That's almost one out of every 3 page views. Before the experiment I was thinking of maybe ~10% but it seems that I'm just oblivious to all the development lately.

  • Ad-blocking on mobile phone still has pretty low penetration. I guess most of the 6.8% would be iOS 9 with content blocker, although ad-blocking was previously achievable with Firefox, rooted phones or local DNS forwarder.

  • With the high percentage of ad-blockers, I'll say most won't even bother white-listing a relatively harmless site like OzBargain, which uses exclusively AdSense. I don't think "acceptable ads" would succeed at all, as for ad-blocker users, any external resources that slow down the website from loading would get labelled as "unacceptable".

  • Almost 50% of ads on OzBargain are CPM based (according to AdSense report). Them not loading at all one in 3 pages -- I can imagine the dent it has placed on our revenue. Google would have something under its sleeve, wouldn't it? I hope it's more than just paying off the racketeering money to get into the acceptable ads program.

We'll see.