IAB on ad blockers: Good research or biased?

adblockersAd blockers are appearing everywhere and are now available for desktop as well as mobile browsers.  The IAB recently conducted research and according to their report consumers would be willing to delete ad blockers if advertisers could “assure users of site safety: Provide guarantees that site and ads are secure, malware and virus-free, and won’t slow down browsing”.  Uh, No.

The IAB report says:

  • 26% of Users Surveyed Block Ads on Computers and tend to be Men 18- 34 years old.
  • Anti-Virus confused for ad blocking. Additionally, 40% think that they are using an ad blocker. The confusion comes from consumers thinking that antivirus software or pop-up blockers built into their browser are ad blockers.
  • 15% Block Ads on Smartphones and tend to be Men 18-34 years old.

Well over the last year I have been directly involved in qualitative and quantitative research on how consumers use the web and my findings directly contradict the IAB report.


What I have heard is:

1ne: People use ad blockers because they are tired of ads, getting in the way of their reading content.

2wo: Consumers don’t like ads on mobile devices because they feel “I’m paying for content via my monthly phone bill and don’t want to have to pay to read ads”.

3hree: Older Internet users are using ad blockers in bigger numbers as well as business women.

So why the disparity?  Well the IAB has a vested interest in Internet advertising.  Instead of tackling the issues of click fraud and BOTS they are going after ad blockers.  Essentially, anyone with an ad blocker is saying “leave me alone”.  This is especially true as US broadband rates continue to be high and mobile data rates can cost as much as rents.


Just as consumers are time shifting TV and skipping commercials the same is true for content they want and need.  Users are especially angry at sites that advertise a certain headline, then require you to click through several pages to get to one headline.

Then there is the inconvenience of retargeting.  I remember one research session when a woman said that she had been shopping lingerie online at lunch and then later that afternoon as she was trying to print a story she wanted an online ad for lingerie appeared.

The IAB needs to get its act together and give brands a reason to advertise online, including the data about fraud and BOTS.  Until then the IAB report can’t be taken at face value.



About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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