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Why consumers block ads: too many ads, annoying, irrelevant, intrusive

Why consumers block ads: too many ads, annoying, irrelevant, intrusive
25 March 2019

London-based market researchers GlobalWebIndex have published the results of new research into how and why consumers are using ad blockers, based on interviews with 109,780 Internet users aged 16-64 in 42 countries.

Some key points:

  • 4 in 10 Internet users across income levels are blocking ads.
  • More people block ads on desktops, but mobile is catching up because ads waste scarce screen space and costly data allowance on mobile devices.
  • 60% of Internet users routinely use ad blockers every day.
  • "Ad fatigue" drives users to block ads.
  • Marketers should explore non-ad avenues like branded content and influencers.


  • Men (48%) - especially ages 16-34 - use ad blockers more than women (38%).
  • Ad blocking is most common in Asia-Pacific (47%), North America (43%), Latin America (42%).

Why consumers block ads (top 5 reasons):

  1. Too many ads on the Internet. (48%)
  2. Too many ads are annoying or irrelevant. (47%)
  3. Ads are too intrusive. (44%)
  4. Ads sometimes contain viruses or bugs. (39%)
  5. Ads take up too much screen space. (37%)

Reasons to block ads - specific to age groups:

  • 16-24 Avoid having to see ads before watching videos
  • 25-34 Conserve data allowance
  • 35-44 Save battery life
  • 45-64 Stop ads being personalized from browsing history

Top ad blocking motivations by country (selected):

  • Too many ads: France, Mexico, Portugal
  • Annoying/irrelevant: Canada, Germany, Ireland, UK, USA
  • Intrusive: China, Italy

Blocking on desktop vs mobile:

  • North America 38% vs. 23%
  • Europe 36% vs. 22%
  • Asia-Pacific: 38% both
  • Latin America 36% vs. 26%
  • Middle East & Africa: 37% vs. 34%

Single-device vs. multi-device ad blocker use, by region:

  • Single-device: 22% (Asia-Pacific) to 44% (Middle East & Africa)
  • Multi-device: 56% (Middle East & Africa) to 78% (Asia-Pacific)

Google is contributing to ad blocking by:

  • In Chrome, blocking full-screen ads, ads that autoplay audio or video, ads with deceptive CLOSE buttons
  • Penalizing in search ranking sites that load slowly on mobile devices

Medium through which consumers most often discover brands:

  • 16-24 Online 35%
  • 25-34 TV 35%
  • 35-44 TV 37%
  • 45-54 TV 41%
  • 55-64 TV 45%

Share of consumers who discover brands through endorsements by celebrities or well-known individuals:

  • 16-24 19%
  • 25-34 18%
  • 35-44 15%
  • 45-54 10%
  • 55-64 6%

How consumers say they have engaged with a brand in the past month (top 5):

  1. Visited website 58%
  2. Watched a video made by the brand 26%
  3. Read an e-mail or newsletter from a brand 24%
  4. Visited brand's social-network page 23%
  5. Linked or followed brand on social network 23%

Recommendations from GlobalWebIndex:

  • Assume ad blockers aren't going away.
  • Ads need to load faster.
  • Ads must be relevant and well placed in context.
  • Invest in content or influencers to become a source of entertainment or education.



Some very actionable points that marketers need to heed:

  • Make all ads relevant to what the user is doing, and to the context in which your ads appear.
  • Make mobile ads small and fast.
  • Publish branded content that entertains or educates.
  • Work with relevant influencers.
  • Don't waste money on ad personalization or celebrity endorsements if targeting middle-aged or older consumers.
  • If getting good results and ROI from TV, don't abandon it yet.

And if you have questions or comments, you can easily send them to me with the Quick Reply form, below, or send me an e-mail.

David Boggs MS    - David
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