Posted on November 19, 2019

10 facts about ad blocking users – Question #1: Why do you use an ad blocker?

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To say that the team at AAX is interested in ad blocking users is an understatement. We're fascinated.

So we decided to consult the mass trove of data that GlobalWebIndex (GWI) keeps about internet behavior in order to tease out some of the particularities of the group. We took our findings and compiled “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ad Blocking Users,” a study that peers into everything from the reason for ad block use (which is what you’re about to read about) to preferences for pets and real estate.

The study will be published on January 16, 2020.

Why Ad Blocking?

A massive section of the human population has decided to put up a barrier between themselves and advertising: approximately one billion people worldwide use ad blockers.

But sheer size isn’t the only thing that sets ad blocking users apart. Ad blockers make up a unique, highly engaged demographic…a demographic that just happens to be approximately as large as the population of India.

Doc Searls was right: it is the biggest boycott in human history.

So, when we started doing research on ad block users, our very first query was…why block ads?

Articles on ad blocking often focus on complicated causes. In a piece for The Guardian titled “Why we use ad blockers: we need to have more control over what we’re exposed to,” Tom Stevens interviewed ad blockers whose motivation ranged from limiting impulse buying to vertigo due to strobe-lit pop-ups.

But while articles like Stevens’ are thorough looks into the intricate particulars of ad blocking, our research led us to understand that the main underlying reason is much simpler:

There are too many ads on the internet.

For most people, it was sheer quantity that prompted the move to ad blocking. Ads in moderation were tolerable; an unending stream of ads was not.

But other reasons for making the choice to block ads were almost as popular. The next most popular reasons for using an ad blocker?

Too many ads are annoying or irrelevant.

Ads are intrusive.

This encompasses the pop-ups, the glittery dancing icons, the loud buzzers, the shimmering panels that inform you that there are singles in your area, the all caps screaming. Users don’t enjoy the accompanying sensory overload, and resent having to close tabs or train their vision away from flashing images.

The last trio of reasons encompasses a more niche set of concerns related to harm and the surfing experience:

Ads take up too much screen space.

Ads sometimes contain viruses or bugs.

To speed up page loading time.

These reasons speak to the worry of ads being overwhelming and compromised, rather than the content of the ads themselves. Ads, this section of ad blocking users seems to fear, aren’t regulated.

Check back for our next post on ad blocking user insights, where we’ll be tackling the question of digital content purchasing.