Posted on March 18, 2021

How does ad blocking motivation change across age groups?

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Ad filterers—the 95% of ad blocking users that have an ad blocker installed on their device but consent to be served ads—are a demographic that skews young.

But because ad filterers make up such a massive group of people (95% is a pretty big percentage!) it’s important not to overlook the older segment of the population when looking at motivations for ad blocking.

So we looked at everyone from age sixteen up through retirement age; from the members of Gen Z up through Baby Boomers. And what we found as we also looked through the motivations of Millennials, Xennials, and Gen X’ers, is thought provoking.

Gen Z’ers have more concerns than Millennials

When we examined the top five most common reasons for ad blocking, Gen Z’ers (ages 16-24) were ahead of Millennials (ages 25-34) in terms of voicing concerns about ads.

Where this was most apparent was in the question of annoyance and irrelevance. When asked “Why do you use an ad blocker?” 60.5% of Gen Z respondents replied “Too many ads are annoying or irrelevant,” compared to only 53.7% of Millennials.

But Gen Z led the pack when it came to all other issues, responding in higher percentages than Millennials with the answers: “Ads sometimes contain bugs or viruses,” “There are too many ads on the internet,” “Ads are too intrusive,” and “To speed up loading times.”

Baby Boomers are annoyed and Gen X’ers feel the need for speed

An interesting finding that appears when looking across these five generations is that Millennials (25-34) and Xennials (35-44) show less concern across the board than those people both younger (Gen Z, ages 16-24) and older (Gen X, ages 45-54; Baby Boomers, ages 55-64).

This of course doesn’t mean that Millennials and Xennials aren’t using ad blockers. They are, in fact, one of the age groups using ad blockers the most. However, they’re not reporting overwhelmingly on certain pain points the way other generations are. This might have something to do with the Xennial and Millenials relationship to the internet. They grew up with the internet and the online ad space in many ways, cutting their teeth with AOL account and evolving with the technology. Their understanding of online ads has shifted, and they’re seen things get better—after all, the days of the ever-pervasive sparkly banner ad are over!

When it comes to Gen X’ers, the concern centers around speed. 45.7% responded to the question “Why do you use an ad blocker?” with the answer “To speed up loading times,” compared with 43% of Xennials, 44.8% of Baby Boomers, 41.6% of Millennials, and 42.6% of Gen Z’ers. This concern could be a holdover—as people who came of age in the era of dial-up, speed is a concern that still resonates.

And Baby Boomers, like Gen Z, feel strongly about ads being “annoying or irrelevant.” They responded in greater percentages with this answer than any other demographic, with 70.8% answering “Why do you use an ad blocker?” “Too many ads are annoying or irrelevant.” It’s clear that this is an age group with resources and disposable income, willing to see ads that would be relevant to their interests…but that they’re being inundated with annoying advertisements.If you’re interested in learning more about ad filterer motivations and psychology, make sure to check out our forthcoming study, Why Block Ads? Behind User Reasons and Motivations, a study that examines, well, the reasons and motivations behind ad blocking habits.

Why Block Ads? Behind User Reasons and Motivations will be published in April, but we’ll be teasing its release with posts just like this one. And if you’re interested, check out some of our previous ground-breaking studies.

Last November we released Ad Filterers Online: Purchasing Habits and Media Consumption In The USA, which shed light on the subject of how ad filterers spend time online…and how they spend their hard-earned dollars.

And back in January of 2020 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.