The use of software that blocks online ads is expected to cost Web sites about US$21.8 billion globally this year, a study showed on Monday.
The study, by software group Adobe Systems Inc and Ireland-based consultancy PageFair Ltd, found that the number of Internet users employing ad-blocking software has jumped 41 percent in the past 12 months to 198 million.
The report said that while consumers have warmed to the idea of blocking online ads, they might not realize that the practice could hurt Web sites that rely on ad revenue.
Those losses are expected to grow to more than US$41 billion next year, the study said.
“It is tragic that ad block users are inadvertently inflicting multibillion-dollar losses on the very Web sites they most enjoy,” PageFair chief executive Sean Blanchfield said. “With ad blocking going mobile, there’s an eminent threat that the business model that has supported the open Web for two decades is going to collapse.”
Consumers are able to install extensions on some Web browsers, such as Google Chrome, which block most ads. A similar tool is expected to become available on Apple devices with the release of the new iOS operating system later this year.
The report said that because of this growth, “ad blocking now poses an existential threat for the future of free content on the Internet.”
In the US market alone, blocked ads resulted in US$5.8 billion in losses last year and are estimated to cost US$10.7 billion this year, PageFair and Adobe found.
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