Posted on March 30, 2021

Surprising links: education and ad blocking

Featured photo

In general, the more educated you are the more likely you are to turn to an ad blocker.

People who block ads—and especially ad filterers, the name given to the 95% of ad blocking users who have an ad blocker installed but also consent to be served respectful, non-intrusive ads—are a well-educated bunch. Whereas only 23.3% of non- ad blocking users held a university degree, and only 4.9% held a postgraduate degree, an impressive 27% of ad blockers held a university degree and 11.7% of ad filterers had a Masters or higher. (Source)

But that doesn’t mean that, within ad filterers as a demographic whole, there isn’t a range of education levels. Approximately 60% have either a high school degree or some amount of college education, and more than a quarter hold a university degree. The only outlier is high school: only 0.9% percent of ad filterers fail to graduate.

This made us curious. We wanted to know whether motivations for ad blocking differed by education levels…or if they remained constant whether or not a user had a high school education or a PhD.

So we consulted the trove of data that the GlobalWebIndex (GWI) keeps about internet behavior. This data is accumulated by actual users responding to questions, and GWI amends it on a frequent, rolling basis.

To streamline the data we looked exclusively at users with a high school degree, a university degree, or a postgraduate degree. We also focused specifically on the top five reasons for ad blocking. And we found out a lot.

When examining the main reasons users gave ad blocking, we noticed that those ad filterers with a high school education replied affirmatively to more statements than those ad filterers with a university degree or a postgraduate degree. Across the board, percentages were higher—from “There are too many ads on the internet” to “To speed up loading times.”

The answer that was most overwhelmingly affirmative? When asked “Why do you use an ad blocker?” 49.5% of ad filterers with a high school education answered “Ads sometimes contain viruses or bugs.” When asked the same question, only 45.3% percent of users with a university degree and 40.9% of users with a postgraduate degree answered “Ads sometimes contain viruses or bugs.”

There was one category that stood out: the one that was favored by those with a university degree. “Ads are too intrusive” was an answer from 46.8% of university graduates compared with 456% of high school graduates and 44.4% of respondents with a postgraduate degree.


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.