Posted on May 25, 2022

How ambitious are American ad filterers?

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We know that the average American ad filterer—ad filterer being the term used to describe a user who has an ad blocker installed on their device but still consents to be served ads—is successful.

This is a demographic, after all, that is more educated than average, has the disposable income to make significant purchases online as well as small ones, and takes on professional and leadership roles at work.

But despite all this success, ad filterers don’t seem content to rest on their laurels.

We took a look at how ad filterers describe themselves, as part of a larger project of understanding the political profile of American ad blocking user.

And, although ad filterers don’t describe themselves as affluent, they do describe themselves in terms of ambition. More than 40% self-identify as “ambitious.”

That ambition may or may not extend to wanting cold, hard, cash, however. Fewer than 1⁄4 of ad filterers describe themselves as “money driven.” Another interesting wrinkle: almost exactly the same percentage of ad filterers describe themselves as “traditional” as describe themselves as “ambitious.”

Who describes themselves as ambitious?

When looking at the descriptors that people employ to describe themselves, it’s vital to realize one particular thing about human nature: people are more likely to refer to themselves using words they have positive connotations with.

Just as we tend to choose flattering light and angles that minimize double chins when we take selfies, we pick words that we think will portray ourselves in the best possible manner, even to complete strangers asking the question “How would you describe yourself?”

And when it comes to descriptors like “ambitious” and “money-driven,” well…let’s just say that those words can be more than a little fraught.

Just take a look at a recent Harvard Business School article that asks the question, “How ambitious should you be?” In this piece, a committee chair in charge of hiring ruminates on the fact that it’s easy for people to dismiss you as too ambitious or not ambitious enough and it’s very hard for someone to hit the perfect, Baby-Bear’s-porridge-in-Goldilocks spot of just right.

The pitfalls of having too much or too little ambition are very real, the author of the piece states:

In excess, ambition damages reputations, relationships, and can lead to catastrophic failure. On the other hand, too little ambition can make the person in question look lazy and unmotivated. Further, it can result in mediocre performance, boredom, and a bleak sense of futility.

But how does someone go about finding the sweet spot that occurs halfway between these two extremes? Unfortunately, there’s no real roadmap. And that leads to people tending towards whichever option seems like the lesser of two evils. Is it better to be viewed as someone who might “damage reputations and relationships,” i.e. someone with too much ambition? Or is it better to risk being seen as lazy and unmotivated, i.e. someone with too little ambition?

The answer, as it turns out, depends a lot on your gender. According to a recent Forbes article,

the majority of women consider themselves to be ambitious, but only three in 10 (31%) overall say they are proud to call themselves “ambitious.” Their preferred euphemisms are motivated or confident.

The takeaway, we at AAX believe, is that the ad filtering demographic would be a lot more likely to define itself as “ambitious” if ambition were an attribute that more Americans felt comfortable with.


AAX is devoted to knowing everything there is to know about ad filterers. In one previous study we looked into what makes this demographic unique, another study examined their purchasing habits, and our most recent study dug deep into ad filterer motivation: the reasons ad filterers avoid advertisements, and how and why those reasons change.

Our passion for all things ad filterer is why we’ve turned our attention to an issue that’s capturing everyone’s attention: ad filterers’ political profiles. We’ve looked through the fascinating findings over at the GlobalWebIndex (GWI) to compile a new study—American Ad Blocking Users’ Political Profile—available for free download in May 2022.