Top 4 misconceptions about ad block users



August 24, 2023

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Every inhabitant of the digital marketing world has heard of ad block. Love it or hate it, facts and falsehoods about ad block and its users circulate the Internet at speeds that 5G can only envy. At Ad-Shield, we’ve dedicated (and continue to dedicate) our time and resources to understanding ad block users. Why do users install ad blockers? Which ads perform best? What ads do users hate most? While advising our customers on these topics, we noticed that misconceptions about ad block users still prevail amongst publishers and advertisers. This blog post addresses four common misconceptions and highlights what publishers and advertisers really need to know.

Misconception #1: Not that many people use ad block

The first misconception is that ad blockers aren’t popular enough to be of genuine concern. Sure, they can hinder ad revenue generation, but they’re only used by a small, tech-savvy corner of the Internet. So there’s no need to worry. Right?

Not quite. Data from our publishers reveal that 35% of Internet users globally have at least one ad blocker installed. It’s a bit lower in the US, at 28%. These statistics may seem insignificant, but consider this: a 28% ad blocker installation rate translates to 28% of missing ad revenue. And those losses are only considering your US traffic. Other studies have reported even higher numbers:

The results vary depending on the study, but the percentage of ad blocker users worldwide is consistently calculated at roughly 35-45%.

Misconception #2: Adblock users hate ads in all forms

It’s assumed that ad-block users install ad blockers because they hate seeing advertisements in any and all forms. This isn’t actually true. The overwhelming majority of users don’t hate all ads; they hate annoying, intrusive ads.

Last year, Ad-Shield surveyed 2,000 US ad block users for insights regarding their preferences and behaviour. We first asked about their motivation for installing ad blockers. At 8%, the least common reason was to avoid all advertising. The most common reason, at a staggering 98% percent, was to avoid interruptive/intrusive ad experiences. Concerns regarding privacy were the second most popular, at 52%. Unawareness of ad block activation (34%), preserving network bandwidth (31%), improving device performance (30%), and saving battery (28%) closed out the remaining motivations. (The survey allowed users to select more than one motivation.) Furthermore, in the second part of our survey, 68% of users said they would accept minimal, non-intrusive ads in order to support content creators. Only 6% said they wanted to block all advertisements. Similarly, a 2021 Pagefair report found that 63% of ad block users are willing to accept light, non-intrusive ads. The key takeaway is that users don’t mind ads, as long as they’re not annoying.

Misconception #3: Adblock users can’t be monetized

While Misconception #1 underestimates the problem of ad blockers, Misconception #3 paradoxically does the opposite. Yes, ad block - and its users - are problems for ad monetization. But the problems are far from unsolvable. With so much at stake (the digital advertising market is projected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2030), players across the tech and advertising worlds invest heavily in ad block recovery. And the investments are paying off: the current best-in-class technology recovers over 90% of ad-blocked revenue. To learn more about the most popular solutions, check out our comprehensive guide to adblock recovery strategies.

Misconception #4: It’s not worth monetizing ad-block users

We’ve established that it’s possible to monetize ad-block users. But doing so requires additional investments in time and resources, and you may wonder if it’s worthwhile. Sure, recovering ads = recovering impressions, but will there be an ROI for clicks? It seems logical that ad-blocker users, upon seeing ads, will be far less willing to engage than ad-blocker-free users.

Our own data comprising billions of ad blocker user events showed otherwise. Ad blocker users actually have a 30% higher CTR and 20% higher conversion rate than users not using ad blockers. Further, studies from GWI and YouGov show that ad-block users are 80% more likely to make online purchases, 76% more likely to leave reviews, and 50% more likely to comment on forums. Ad block users are clearly active users, making them invaluable for advertisers and publishers alike. This may be counter-intuitive at first, but it makes sense when contextualizing ad exposure for ad block vs. ad block-free users. Consider: the average American sees 4,000 to 10,000 ads daily. Of those ads, less than 100 are registered, simply because our brains filter out most ads to prevent information overload. It’s not that people are only functionally capable of registering X percent of advertisements, it’s that there’s a limited number of advertisements able to remain in our memory when we’re overexposed to ads. Finally, consider our estimate that ad-block users see 80% fewer ads. As an advertiser, which audience is more important: those who’ve already seen hundreds of ads, or those who’ve only watched a few and have memory space remaining in their minds?

Joon Yu
Founder & CEO