Posted on February 9, 2021

The top three reasons for ad blocking

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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.

Now, we’re excited to announce our new study is slated to be published this spring. After spending time researching in the vaults that the GlobalWebIndex (GWI) keeps about internet user behavior, we’ve compiled Why Block Ads? Behind User Reasons and Motivations.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that the study examines, well, the reasons and motivations behind ad blocking habits. We’re especially interested in why ad filterers—users that curate their own ad experiences by opting to be served some but not all advertisements—choose ad blocking.

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

The top three reasons to block ads

The primary reason that the ad filtering demographic blocks ads is as follows:

– 59% find that “Too many ads are annoying or irrelevant.”
– 52.6% agree with the statement “There are too many ads on the internet.”
– 47.3% are worried because “Ads sometimes contain viruses or bugs.”

While all of these issues are clearly of concern, it’s notable that the primary reason—”Too many ads are annoying or irrelevant”—leads the pack. This ad blocking behavior is tied to emotion and frustration, as well as the feeling that the ads being served are simply of not the best quality or relevance.

So what makes these annoying ads so annoying? According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the most annoying ad elements are:

“Ads that block content, long video ads before short videos, ads that follow down the page as the user scrolls. [And] consumers that use ad blockers are even more annoyed by these ad elements, especially auto-start ads.” (Source)

This suggests something interesting: the idea that non-intrusive and non-obnoxious ads would be considered fine (or even of interest!) by this demographic. It also suggests that ads that are considered more pertinent to the users’ lives and interests would no longer be lumped into the same undesirable category as “annoying” ads.

There’s also no denying that this sentiment is tied to the next one thematically. The statement “There are too many ads on the internet” is both a statement that’s referring directly to a number and an expression of frustration that can arise when ads are…annoying or irrelevant. After all, any number of annoying, irrelevant ads would be considered too many.

And of course privacy and security concerns, which are always a hot topic where user satisfaction is concerned, are among the top three reasons for ad blocking. Additionally, there’s a clear connection between “annoying and irrelevant ads” and worries about “viruses and bugs.” One of the more serious reasons these ads are so annoying is because of user anxiety surrounding security—and that anxiety is especially directed towards ads that seem suspicious or irrelevant.

From now until Why Block Ads? Behind User Reasons and Motivations is published in the spring, we’ll be scheduling regular posts that look a little more deeply into the study’s insights.

Stay tuned!