There are 3.2bn internet users in the world, so some say that 200m active blockers is not that big a figure. The downside for the advertisers, however, is that most blockers tend to be young, male and well-educated. One study found they spend about €200 a month online. They’re a small but high-value group. Mobile browsers such as Safari, they also say, are not big ad carriers, the blocker is selective, allowing through certain types of ads, and ads in mobile apps would not be affected. The downside of this is that nobody has yet managed to find a way to produce effective ads on the small screens of mobile devices. PageFair, meanwhile, has been detecting adblocks at the rate of more than a billion a month.
In spite of the denials, the shudder that went through the industry was profound: the entire business model of the web was at risk. “The genie is out of the bottle,” says Johnny Ryan, head of ecosystem at PageFair. “You are going to get adblocking everywhere, it is just a matter of time.”