Posted on February 23, 2021

Personalization, video ads, and blanket ad avoidance: considerable motivations for blocking ads.

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As recently as 2017, think pieces proliferated with headlines like “Why personalised advertising is your lifeline in an age of ad blockers.” The idea? That people wouldn’t block ads if they were served ads that were relevant to their own experiences.

But that’s not the whole story.

As we discussed in our previous posts in this series, the major reasons the ad filtering public turned to the practice of ad blocking have to do with the irrelevance and sheer number of ads cluttering up their browsing experience./p>

However, fear of personalization (or checking “To stop ads being personalized based on my browsing history” when asked “Why do you use an ad blocker?”) ranked #9 out of the Top 12 reasons people block ads. True, that’s not exactly topping the list…but that doesn’t mean it should be discounted. 29.8% of ad filterers selected personalization as a reason for ad blocking.

As for the #7 and #8 reasons behind ad blocking, they are, respectively:

– “To avoid having to see video ads before watching clips/shows” (36.4%)

– ““I try to avoid all ads wherever, whether on TV or online” (34.6%)

These answers are divided in terms of central motivation: the reasons behind the reasons given.

The answer “To avoid having to see video ads before watching clips/shows” reflects the fact that some respondents see ads as being detrimental to their browsing experience, or ads being a source of annoyance. This is aligned with some of the primary reasons given for blocking ads, such as “There are too many ads on the internet” (the second most popular reason given) or “[I block ads] to speed up loading times” (the fifth most popular reason).

But “I try to avoid all ads wherever, whether on TV or online,” stands out because it suggests a blanket avoidance that has less to do with the ins and outs of user experience, and more to do with a general practice or philosophy.

Trying to avoid ads at all times is a move made out of principle, one that’s more aligned with the early days of ad blocking, where a scorched earth policy—No ads, ever—reigned supreme. However, this mindset is primarily a relic of an earlier time. Today, 95% of people with ad blockers are engaging in a practice called “ad filtering.” Ad filterers consent to be served ads—as long as they’re respectful, non-intrusive ads.

These ad filterers are who we’ve examined in our forthcoming Why Block Ads? Behind User Reasons and Motivations, a study that examines, well, the reasons and motivations behind ad blocking habits.

And that’s not all. We also look at how ad filterers’ motivations and reasons have shifted over time, how they differ between sub-demographics, and why all this matters.

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.

Why Block Ads? Behind User Reasons and Motivations will be published in April, but we’ll be teasing its release with a number of posts just like this one.