ad blocking

The Chinese “neat freaks” online: why use ad blocking?

In Chinese, the expression “neat freak” can extend to many fields. One good example is those who try everything they can to avoid seeing advertisements online. Ad blocking is a rising trend as shown in different reports, especially when it comes to the mobile end. PageFair’s 2016 Mobile Adblocking Report shows 36% of smartphone users in the Asia Pacific region block ads when surfing online. 93% of the ad blocking browser users live in this region. China alone has over 159 million of them.

Ad blocking is not on most Chinese people’s radar in the PC era. (China has one of the most ad-tolerant PC user groups compared to the rest of the world.) But why do so many people become neat freaks when it comes to their smartphone? Various research studies and analyses of the Chinese market locate the key points:

  • Data is not cheap in China (yet)! The mass majority of service providers do not offer unlimited data to users. Therefore, people don’t want to waste data on random advertisements. Obvious market needs also pushed mobile browser developers to ensure and advocate how their products can optimize data usage for their customers.
  • The internet speed is…a complicated story. After hearing every single one of my expat friends complain about internet speed in China, I am not surprised Chinese mobile users want to cut elements that worsen the situation. Online ads are definitely one of them.
  • Many ads are poor in quality, invasive and linked to the idea of virus. Video ads set to auto-play, unfiltered random images with unpleasant signs and brand names, hyperlinks you might accidentally click and lead to a virus. All these are common concerns of users. A lot of current ads are indeed making users’ online experience “unneat.”

Does it mean the future for the mobile ads is all gloomy? When discussing the use of ad blocking tools, users explain how they are not just blocking advertisements per se. They are blocking the annoyance, inconvenience and potential danger. They are actually capable of appreciating the creative ads and useful contents.

With rapid developments in economy and technology, China is quickly entering the time of 4G internet and the cost of data is decreasing. Creating high quality ads and promoting them to targeted audiences is one of the best solutions for advertisers in today’s market. After all, many ad blocking tool users are neat freaks, because the alternative feels like a telephone pole on the street full of random advertisements.

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