On average, one in five domain-name system (DNS) requests from a browser ask to load an ad or tracking domain. That means nearly 20% of internet traffic is junk -- mostly ads, according to AdGuard.
Ads and pixel trackers hide in nearly every website. They slow content and eat traffic. But by how much?
AdGuard wanted to know. The company, which blocks ads and online tracking pixels, compared the number of requests its ad-blocking server handled in one day with the number of requests it blocked.
Some regions had a higher share of domains that attempt to spy on site visitors or serve disruptive ads, while others have less.
Here’s what the test showed. The server processed about 80 billion requests from 241 places worldwide.
The data showed that 7.24 is the average share of ad-tracking requests in the user traffic it blocked.
When an ad-tracking request is not blocked, it triggers 2.14 additional ad requests on average without the user doing anything.
When an ad domain is loaded by a browser or app, it can set in motion a chain of browser requests to other ad servers. By allowing one ad domain to load, it also may allow many more ad domains.
This is called loading “hidden ads.” To get a rough idea of how many ads, AdGuard analysts analyzed some popular U.K. and U.S. news sites with and without the ad-blocking server.
The results: there were 3.15 times more requests when not using the ad blocker. These extras were the requests from “hidden” ad domains.
This means, according to the report, that ads and tracking requests make up about 19.6% of traffic -- most of these requests are hidden, and each depends on other ad domains to load. So nearly 20% of traffic is ads, not 7%.
Asia has 7.93% of ads and trackers -- the highest share of all regions -- followed by Europe at 7.11%. The U.S.’s share is 7.23%. The Americas’ share is 6.71% and Africa at 6.70% are nearly the same. Mexico’s share is 6.44%, and Canada’s share is 6.58%.
AdGuard was not able to draw conclusions about the share of ads and trackers in users’ traffic for many countries, because the number of requests processed was too small.
One interesting fact centers on Vatican City, Rome. The seat of the Roman Catholic Church government has a population of 806 and an impressive share of ads and trackers in traffic, at 12.69%.
This would suggest that Catholic clergy are “drowning in digital garbage,” but hesitated to jump to conclusions due to the extremely small sample size.
The study did not analyze North Korea either, because of the restrictive internet policies and ranks last in terms of the number of requests processed -- only 578, 11.07% of which were blocked.