Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Breaking the stereotypes: Three common misconceptions about ad blocking users

By Till Faida, CEO at eyeo

Traditionally, advertisers have written off ad blocking users as being unreachable and, therefore, uninterested. 

Although many are now recognising the need to evolve and develop more sustainable forms of advertising, there are still those remaining rigid and unmoved. They continue to think online users would rather block all ads online than help in sustaining the digital ecosystem. This misconception has led to countermeasures like asking users to turn off their ad blocker in order to gain access to a website.

When you consider the average person spends around 6 hours and 43 minutes online each day, it is vital for publishers and advertisers alike to have more in-depth insight into how these users engage with both content and online ads, as they may uncover some surprising findings. 

Last year, eyeo – in conjunction with YouGov – conducted an investigation into online user attitudes towards advertising and the use of ad blockers. The results revealed several common misconceptions around online users who use ad blockers, which we will now explore and swiftly debunk to help educate publishers and advertising agencies alike. 

Ad blocking users don’t hate ads

Perhaps one of the most surprising things we learnt about ad blocking users is that they don’t hate all ads, in fact the majority are emphatic to the role advertising plays in keeping the internet free.

Approximately, 75 per cent of internet users understood the importance of adverts for the long-term sustainability of a free internet ecosystem. Ad blocking users respect the digital ecosystem but at the same time they don’t want advertising formats that disrupt their browsing experience.

Ad blocking users; smarter than the average bear. 

With that in mind, the second key finding of interest to publishers and advertisers alike is the fact that ad block users are young, educated, tech-savvy and earning more than an average salary. They are 80 per cent more likely to make purchases online, making them a crucial user base for advertisers. 

So surely the question if this is the case, the question that the buy-side should be asking amongst its teams, is “Are my ads reaching this segment? And if not, why not?”

This is why we want to continue to educate the publishing and advertising communities about the vitally important role that ad filtering plays in reaching this key demographic.

Ads that add to the browsing experience; not diminish it 

In its earliest form, ad blocking – as a concept and a technology – was uncompromising, blocking all forms of advertising. 

As seen in our UK survey, we know without a shadow of a doubt that the majority of ad blocking users understand the role advertising plays in keeping the internet free and that they are happy to receive adverts, rather than block them altogether, just as long as they are not intrusive and add to their browsing experience. 

So, despite what many might assume, online users are accepting of advertising and are not looking to block ads completely. They just want to see relevant content. They would be open to an ‘ad-light experience’ where content and ads can co-exist.

How advertisers can reach the ad block user demographic

Critically, advertisers have to learn that this huge segment of online users are not lost to them; they are still there and waiting for stakeholders in the digital advertising supply chain to recognise the trend towards ad filtering and adapt to this new reality.

So what do advertisers need to know in order to reach this hugely valuable demographic?

Most importantly, ads need to be delivered in a manner that does not disrupt the user experience. While not the only solution, this is why we encourage advertisers to embrace the open ecosystem that has developed around Acceptable Ads, which can provide an immense amount of value to publishers, brands, agencies, ad-tech vendors and end-users. The ecosystem provides multiple ad-tech solutions for brands, agencies, DSPs, and others. Again, it’s not the only way to regain ad blocking users — but it is a growing one, with ads already featured on 54 per cent of the ComScore Top 100 desktop sites.

From our own investigations, we know ad blocking users are respectful of the role advertising plays in keeping the internet free and that they only want to see consent-based ads. Let’s hope that the most innovative and forward-thinking advertisers out there learn to understand this better and develop better ways of giving this valuable demographic of users what they desire.