How ads are chewing through half of your mobile data

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Many people see adverts as the scourge of the internet but they remain the major, and in many cases, only, revenue stream for online media publishers. Another blow has been struck to online advertising recently, however, as a study has revealed how it could constitute for as much as 79 percent of the mobile data consumed by each web page.   

An average of 48% of our data is spent on ads

The study, published by media research firm Enders Analysis in late April, suggested that, on average, almost half of the data required to view a web page is consumed by advertising. To test this, Enders used a browser that mimicked an iPhone 6 and accessed a total of eight "popular" news sites (though they didn't confirm what these were). 

Ender's published the chart below which shows the data consumed by three web page elements: HTML (blue), Javascript (orange) and ads (green). The columns below correspond to the data (in megabytes) consumed by each of the eight websites. Pages were loaded once in their entirety, once with ads disabled, and once with Javascript and ads disabled to achieve the results.

Enders Analysis
Data transfer from eight different news sites. / © Enders Analysis

The conclusion is that the ads accounted for anywhere between 18 and 79 percent of the data transferred while non-essential JavaScript elements added an extra 6 to 68 percent. 

"On the basis of this investigation, an estimate that says advertising accounts for half of all data used by publisher pages on iPhones does not look unreasonable," the report stated.

Oh, so that's why I run out of data before the end of the month...

Well, not exactly. This was only tested on eight unnamed news sites on a system which represented an iPhone 6: it's far from comprehensive. That said, it does provide insight into the potential effect that advertising can have on mobile data.

Mobile data is consumed by far more than just webpages: downloads, streaming, messages and apps can all add to how much mobile data your device uses. But mobile browsers like Chrome are often at the top of this list (just check your mobile data page in your Android settings now to see for yourself).

ABP banners
Many people turn to adblock apps to reduce mobile data usage, but it's a contentious subject. / © ANDROIDPIT

Final thoughts

Solutions to this issue are scarce, but Adblock services do provide one way to reduce this data consumption. This is a controversial subject, though, as ads are often the sole source of a website's revenue, and cutting this off invariably means cutting funding for that site. 

With online ads being so omnipresent – and indeed vital to the survival of most websites – we just hope that they can be made more efficient, and their cost to the mobile data plans of consumers reduced further. For more ideas on this topic, check out our helpful guide to reducing your mobile data consumption.

What is your position on online advertising and mobile data consumption? Let us know in the comments.

Go to comment (21)
Santiago Luque

Santiago Luque
Freelance Editor

Santiago works as a Freelance Editor for the Spanish AndroidPIT

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  • Laurie Sellick May 13, 2022 Link to comment

    If we are padding the pockets of the websites we are doing our part as we want information or gaming. They have found to get more money from ads than from the consumer. So I think since our data is ate up by most web sites, the price of all mobile phones should go down in price. Way down in price. Why don't we get something out of this.

  • Vinicius. G. Romero Jun 20, 2016 Link to comment

    Holy shit, I had no idea that ads had this much power. Damn sneaky, if I may say.

  • Robert Sibley May 31, 2016 Link to comment

    I use the Samsung browser and adblocker to avoid most of those pesky ads. I doubt a site would be shut down because a few people use ad blockers while the masses don't. A lot of forum sites have a dandy donate button instead of ads and just a few dedicated users that donate can easily keep a site up and running. There is always more than one option, and over use of ads is a problem, in my opinion.

    • itprolonden May 31, 2016 Link to comment


    • Laurie Sellick May 13, 2022 Link to comment

      Going down on the price of the phones we buy since it eats the data up we could purchase new phones. They can get funding from the phones we have to buy to keep up with the ads hmmm

  • Thomas S May 29, 2016 Link to comment

    I installed ublock origins on Firefox (android), so I don't have this problem, since I don't see ads

  • Blessing Omosomwan May 29, 2016 Link to comment

    I've been unable to use my Google Play Store services 4 passed 4days now. Each time l Try d fone tells me it is missing.

  •   31
    Deactivated Account May 29, 2016 Link to comment

    easy for me to say living in the UK... but..
    I avoid using cellular network for anything apart from calls txt and emails...
    issues about advertising will always be prevalent...
    when just about everything in our world has to be economically viable advertising and data consumption is just gonna increase...
    what I do appreciate is decent targeted advertising that provides information about goods and services I like or need..
    I don't wanna see "my device has a virus" advert, but other stuff can be helpful..

  •   46
    Deactivated Account May 29, 2016 Link to comment

    Ad are the reason I will only install game apps that can be played offline. I only turn on Wi-Fi if I an doing something. I rarely ever use mobile data, only in an extreme pinch. I have everything on Micro SD that I need music, movies etc... that way I don't need to stream anything.

  • Pradeep Monu May 29, 2016 Link to comment

    Without root nothing can happen?

    •   32
      Deactivated Account May 29, 2016 Link to comment

      For best result, you have to root your phone. few ad-blockers need root access to block ads

    • Thomas S May 29, 2016 Link to comment

      You can use Firefox and install ublock origins

  • storm May 29, 2016 Link to comment

    Root and run an ad blocker. Play your games in airplane mode.

    •   32
      Deactivated Account May 29, 2016 Link to comment

      Rooting is one of the best method but playing games in airplane mode is not an good idea because most of the best games can only be played online.

      • storm May 29, 2016 Link to comment

        We differ on what constitutes best

      • Paolo May 29, 2016 Link to comment

        TBH if your idea of "best games" needs to have an ad blocker because there's so many ads on it, and your device NEEDS to be online (it's basically DRM!) you should probably reevaluate what you think the "best games" are. Goat Simulator has ZERO ads and is very much playable OFFline, for example, that's an easy contender for "best game..."

  • Haggie May 29, 2016 Link to comment

    Maybe "your" data is half ads, but not MY data.

  • Pradeep Monu May 29, 2016 Link to comment

    So what is the to block also comes on other apps..such as mx player, s360 security and many there any solution?

    •   32
      Deactivated Account May 29, 2016 Link to comment

      Best way to remove ads is by rooting your phone. Also you can use ad-blocker plus apk

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