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

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David Boggs MS    - David
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