Posted on October 15, 2020

Ad filterers + brand discovery: a love story.

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Here’s a fact that might surprise you: ad filterers are three times more likely to discover brands from website ads than non- ad blocking users.

This destroys the common misconception that ad filterers—defined by the GlobalWebIndex as “users who have blocked ads in the past month but discover brands or products through ads seen online and have clicked on an online ad in the past month”—are less likely to discover brands than users who have no ad blocker installed.

But why does this misconception exist in the first place? And what are some of the reasons that ad filterers are so likely to find out about brands on the internet?

A lot of this has to do with a fundamental shift in the ways that people use ad blockers. Gone are the days of the so-called “scorched earth” approach, when people would use ad blockers to block out every single ad on the internet.

That scorched earth mentality, a response to the prevalence of glittery pop-ups and garish banner ads that littered the internet in the first decade of the new millennium, was soon proven to be detrimental to the values of the free web. It was clear that a middle ground needed to be found—one where ads existed but users remained content.

Luckily, findings into user behavior showed that users with ad blockers weren’t opposed to all ads. What they were repelled by were obnoxious ads.

In fact, many of these users then chose to consent to be served ads that were respectful and unobtrusive. When faced with tasteful ads, users found that their user and browsing experience remained pleasant. And this appealing browsing environment is naturally more conducive to the open-minded state that fosters brand discovery.

So while people tend to think that everyone who uses an ad blocker is engaged in scorched earth-style blocking—behavior that certainly doesn’t create a good environment for fertile brand discovery—that belief is outdated and false.

Ad filterers (who make up the vast majority of the entire ad blocking user base) are open and willing to be served the right kind of ads.

And that leads to astounding levels of brand discovery.


In January of this year we published our groundbreaking study, “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ad Blocking Users,” which drew back the curtain on the youthful, affluent, and well-educated users that have ad blockers installed on their devices.

But it turns out that there was even more to discover about this dynamic demographic.

We’ve once more consulted the trove of data that GlobalWebIndex (GWI) keeps about internet behavior and teased out more insights ad filterers, who GWI defines as “users who have blocked ads in the past month but discover brands or products through ads seen online and have clicked on an online ad in the past month.”

The result? AAX’s second study: Ad Filterers Online: Purchasing Habits and Media Consumption In The USA.

We’ll be publishing the study in full in November, but we wanted to give our followers a preview of the insights to come. That’s why, for the next five weeks, we’re highlighting our findings in a series of posts that consider some of our findings in a new light.