Online Ad Blockers adoption on the rapid rise in The Middle East

Middle East internet consumers are increasingly choosing to strip out the advertising from content they consume online. Online Ad Blockers adoption is increasing like Global Warming which everyone is aware about but and no one seems to be worried about it. 

Below Google Trends chart clearly shows a massive rise in searches on Google for keyword “ad blocker” from primary markets like UAE, KSA and Qatar. Notice the huge interest for Ad Blockers in Qatar.

Average Monthly Search volumes for same keyword have gone up double-fold in last year itself within GCC (Source: Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool).

ad block search volume

In June 2014, PageFair and Adobe released a study which highlighted that 4.9% of all internet users worldwide are actively using Ad Blocking plugins and this growth is rapidly accelerating.

So what exactly are Ad Blockers?

Ad Blockers are simple browser plugins that just blocks any ad that appears on any web page that consumers open. In other words these plugins act as Firewall between the web browser and all popular ad servers. These plugins are amazingly effective in blocking ads on any website and most of all ad formats. Two most popular plugins which is re-shaping the online advertising industry are “Adblock Plus” and “Adblock”.

How these Ad Blockers are impacting Digital Publishers in Middle East?

The impact of ad blocking is massive for digital marketers and the biggest impact is on digital content publishers which fear of loosing advertising impressions and ultimately revenues due to these ad blockers. Let’s take few examples: Search:

google ad block view with & without ad block enabled:

dubizzle adblock screenshot with & without ad block enabled:


In above examples both Dubizzle & Kooora’s ad-server failed to deliver the ad impression which is a direct hit to their bottom line revenues. To put the impact in perspective let’s look at this simple calculation.

According to Google’s Display Ad Planner tool, generates 150m-200m Impressions a month, 1.5M-2M Unique Cookies & CPM of up to approximately $1.

dubizzle adplanner data

ad block estimatorIf we put above information in perspective than according to my estimates is losing up to $200,000 every year to Ad Blockers. I am assuming an ad block adoption rate at 10%. 


I created this Ad Revenue Lost Estimator which you can download to help you do similar calculation for your own website. 

Ad Adoption Rate is different for various industries and according to PageFair research the highest percent of ad blockers are seen on gaming & technology websites which cater to more tech savvy audiences.

ad blocking by industry

How does Ad Blockers impact Digital Advertisers?

In reality the impact is little to advertisers in comparison to publishers. Whatever your buying model is – CPM, CPC, CPA, etc. you only pay if that impression or click was delivered. However advertisers are in trouble if you are trying to catch audiences that are actively using Ad Blockers – although you don’t pay for the ad but you are also losing the opportunity to attract their attention too.

Ad Blocking is extremely popular in younger population (millennials) and the problem is that this largest segment of consumers on internet are getting used to this technology.

What about Mobile?

Currently Ad Blockers are not supported on iOS but are available for Android devices. Adaption of these blockers is comparatively less on mobile but as mentioned above this rapid growth of ad blockers is driven by younger & tech savvy audiences so it is highly likely that they will adopt this technology quickly on mobile too.

If you are a digital publisher than you should strongly consider having your own mobile apps where you are in control of the environment and deliver the advertising for your clients with out the fear of ad blockers.

At a recent Google’s shareholder meetings CEO Larry Page was asked to share his opinion on growth of Ad Blockers and he interestingly said that entire industry needs to produce better ads. Hear him talking on this topic at:


Ad Blockers present a growing threat to digital publishers and advertisers and if you are not paying attention to it yet than you should better start doing it now. The growing adoption of ad blockers is likely to give birth to more innovating ways of advertising including sponsored content partnerships and by keeping up with such formats you can combat this battle. This example from Forbes is inspiring and a good place to start.


However, the internet don’t like someone to control on what they do, so the adblocker-blocker has been born. It’s simple, really: it tricks sites that use anti-adblocker technology into thinking you aren’t using an adblocker.

Your turn. Share your feedback in comments.


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