Skip to main content

Annoying and Disruptive Ads , and Malware, Are Top Three Reasons People Use Ad-Blockers

Hubspot and AdBlock Plus developer Eyeo have released the results of a strangely redundant survey on why people use ad blocking plugins on their sites.

A total of 1,055 people were polled online in US, UK, Germany, and France, in June of this year. Thanks to quotas about 70% of the survey group used ad blockers, and 30% did not. (The report says the survey takers were also screened for laptop or desktop computer and smartphone ownership, but it’s not clear what that means.)

The survey found that people hated ads, with pop-up, mobile, and pre-roll video adverts leading the list. The survey group generally agreed that ads are more intrusive, and more common, than only a few years ago, and when it came to mobile ads the survey group cited pop-over, ads that follow you from desktop to mobile, and video ads in games.

If you’ve spent time online recently then none of this should come as a surprise, nor would it surprise you why people block ads.


Much of the survey results match with what I have read in news coverage, comments, or social media, although there is one part that struck me as oddly redundant.

A later section of the survey invited respondents to justify their use of ad blocking plugins.

In light of the huge revenue losses facing content producers and advertisers, we asked ad blocker users: if they had to justify their use of ad blocking software, what would they have to say?

Half of ad blocker users see it as a way to control their online browsing experience. For them, it’s a right and a convenience. 44% also echoed concerns around slow load times.

Worryingly for content producers, 15% matter of factly state that they don’t care how websites make money.

I find this question redundant because my justification would be security, and that wasn’t even an option for this question. Instead respondents were limited to just self-serving answers which make them sound petulant and entitled.


To be clear, I am not accusing the survey group of anything; this was a poorly-conceived question. It should have been either reworded or struck from the survey.

It’s the kind of question that some site (Nieman Journalism Lab, for example) latched on to so they could bash ad block users.

I’d rather focus on more important details like the 32% of ad block users who would never turn off their ad blocker for any reason, or the 28% of the survey group which would rather stop visiting a site rather than turn off their ad blocker. (For some reason that question was directed at the entire survey group, rather than just ad block users.)

Both of those stats suggest that the websites that are fighting ad block users are going to cost themselves visitors in the long run. The survey also found that only a small minority of web users are willing to pay, so tricks like Wired’s semi-porous paywall won’t work either.

Did you see anything interesting in the report?

Similar Articles


Cole July 13, 2016 um 6:19 pm

Ad blockers is a misnomer. They are HTML firewalls.

Nate Hoffelder July 13, 2016 um 6:28 pm

That’s not a good term either. Ad blockers are often web browser plugins or other pieces of software. That is code, not html.

Cole July 13, 2016 um 8:23 pm

They firewall the HTML (and CSS, JS, etc) coming into your browser.

Network router firewalls are pieces of software written in code, too. Not in network IP packets.

Redrum July 13, 2016 um 8:25 pm

Sigh. Ive tried to turn off adblock on your site. I really have. I get its hpw you fund your site. But your site hangs my computer in firefox for several seconds when I click on a story. I have adblock running, Ive blocked flash, and Ive turned off javascript, but still you hang my computer. Ive managed to stop the hanging on other sites with the aforementioned measures, but your site manages to punch through everything I do. So anyway. Just letting you know. Sigh. I did want to let the ads show so you could make a tenth of a dime.

Nate Hoffelder July 13, 2016 um 8:38 pm

See, that’s why I don’t complain about blocking ads.

Although I’m surprised you’re still having problems. I only have the four ads. That’s light compared to what i used to have.

Sergegobli July 14, 2016 um 7:57 am

Yeah, I dunno. Sorry. *shrugs* doubtless it’s something to do with my computer. I think it actually started (the heavy freezing) after I updated windows 7. *headslap* I now turn of all updates as the updater was sucking my battery dry (which the ads also do).

Muratcan Simsek July 14, 2016 um 1:14 am

Now that you mention them, I am quite angry at Wired. I have bought them for a decade now, and they ask money from me on their web page…

On another note, tracking is important. Ads really do track you, and that even effects your Google searches. But I usually prefer DuckDuckGo anyway.

Data usage is my biggest worry. Us living in developing counties usually have strict fair usage policies on their broadband connections. Mine is 200GB, then my 16mbps connection slows down to 3mbps. And countless researches shown us that ads take up around %50 of our data usage. This is unacceptable for me. Therefore, I only whitelist blogs I always read and a small number of webpages.

Richard Adin July 14, 2016 um 4:00 am

I use AdBlocker and I am one of the people who (a) never turn it off and (b) who would prefer to not visit a site than to turn off ad blocking. On my own An American Editor blog, I pay WordPress’s annual fee to keep the blog ad free. My websites do not accept or permit ads.

I recognize that for some people the only way they can afford to run their sites is by allowing ads, but if the only way they receive a payment is from click-thru, I never did that and wouldn’t do that — too many horror stories of malware infections from clicking thru.

The one thing I really dislike about the current state of the Internet is how difficult it is to maintain a modicum of privacy. I’m not on Facebook, for example, because there is no privacy at all. I use a VPN (Private Internet Access) to mask my IP address and I use Sandboxie (and clean it out a couple of times a day) in hopes of maintaining some privacy.

But, then, I am from a generation that didn’t grow up exposing themselves over the Internet and that doesn’t want the world to know every detail of my life.

I just wish ad blockers were more effective and that didn’t have "white lists" of OK ads.

Hannah Steenbock July 14, 2016 um 5:11 am

I’m with Richard. I’d rather stay off a site than turn off my ad blocker. And I’m quite wary about turning off my java script blocker, as well. I also almost never click through any ads that make it through the blocker. I avoid sponsored ads on Google and Amazon. I do not like to be manipulated.

Which means you won’t find pop-ups and ads on my own sites, either. I perfer making money from selling my books or my services.

Elvis Brown July 14, 2016 um 6:36 am

My concerns are more about tracking and data collection than ads per se so I use an ad/script blocker all the time. I don’t use Facebook or Twitter. I read the Guardian every day and see their ad block banner every day and I’d like to give them money as I appreciate their work BUT when I read their privacy terms I read that the only way I can get a subscription is to agree to them tracking me everywhere, everyday, all the time.

I wrote to them suggesting that maybe they should track only non-subscribers and that a subscription should offer privacy. I never got a reply and I am surprised that no-one is offering this. Pay for privacy, I would

Sergegobli July 14, 2016 um 8:00 am

The ads have completely out of hand (I mean in the whole interweb). It takes a long time to read a page for a few bytes of text, and we get videos and other crazy stuff and scripts that hang the computer, or for a few lines of text! Reedicerlous! Looks to me like there is a need for a half-decent text only browser. We’ll have to go back to a 1990 browser, but run it in a sandbox because of all the viruses and malware!

fahirsch July 15, 2016 um 9:25 am

I have turned off adblocker on your site, and I have no problem using Firefox.
But I would certaily appreciate if you blackball MacKeeper ads.

Write a Comment