Bengaluru: Scrolling banners, pop-up windows with garish graphics, auto-playing videos on infinite loop -- ads, the bread and butter of the Internet, are everywhere. They stalk you from page to page based on your search history or your private conversations on media platforms.

It must seem as if there is no escape from these. But there is, and Indians, along with people across the world, are increasingly turning to software that can block ads from browsers, or ad blocking software.

The number of people actively using ad blockers in India increased from 2 million (second quarter of 2014) to 4 million (198 million globally) in the three months ended June, only about 2% of the total number of Internet users, but this number has been steadily climbing.

The total cost to publishers in India as a result of ad blocking was $74 million in the second quarter, while total ad spending was $938 million ($21 billion globally) in the same period, according to a report by PageFair Ltd, an Irish start-up that helps companies bypass adblocks, and Adobe Systems Inc.

Ad spending is forecast to touch Rs.49,000 crore in 2015, with digital media accounting for over 9% of this expenditure, according to media agency GroupM.

The most popular ad blocking web browser extensions are Adblock and Adblock Plus, which allow users to whitelist to eliminate ads from their browsing experience.

Priya Jayaraman, co-founder, Propaganda India, a digital marketing agency that services clients such as Google Inc., IBM and Chai Point, says ad blocking will give rise to new forms of advertising where users can choose whether they want to view ads.

Gaming websites account for 26.5% of the ads blocked followed by newsgroups or forums at 24.2%, the report adds.

“Publishers with an ad-based revenue model are grappling with the need to serve ads without sacrificing the user experience. At the same time, brands with the biggest ad budgets want to ensure the ad experience they deliver to mobile users is positive, one that doesn’t detract from the content experience. Those factors are fueling the growth of native ad formats and better targeting capabilities," said Catherine Boyle, senior analyst, eMarketer, a digital media research and consultancy firm.

With the rise of online consumption through mobile devices, ad blocking is also expected to rise. Apple Inc, whose Safari browser accounts for 52% of the mobile browsing market, has given developers an easy to build ad blocking software as part of its latest operating system iOS 9.

Meanwhile, media companies and others are trying to find new ways to circumvent ad blocking to keep inflows of revenues intact. K.A. Srinivasan, co-founder of Amagi, an advertising firm, said the effectiveness of ad blocking is nullified when ads are part of the broadcast instead of separate entities.

Piyush Shah, chief product officer and Krishnendu Majumdar, product head at ad tech firm InMobi said it makes sense for advertisers to respect user privacy, and allow them to opt-out of being tracked or receiving ads.

Loss of publishers’ revenue, heavily dependent on ads, is not recouped through alternative methods, said Divyank Turakhia, founder, Media.Net, the second-largest contextual advertising programme that works with publishers such as Forbes.com, and Cosmopolitan.

“The problem with ad blockers is that they don’t just block the bad ads, they block the good ones too. It’s like the music industry in the 90s; people didn’t know the kind of effect they were having by downloading music illegally," said Turakhia. “People should be educated that they can’t get the quality of content that they are getting right now, without the revenue from ads."

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