1/3 Of American Adults Use Online Ad-Blockers, Few Publishers Try To Stop Them

If you’re one of the approximately 1/3 of American Internet users who employ an ad-blocker in your web browser, we don’t mind, because Consumerist doesn’t accept advertising. Other websites that do depend on ads for their income definitely do mind that customers are using ad-blockers, but they don’t really do anything to stop users. Why is that?

There are some notable exceptions to this. Sites’ strategies differ: on the mild end, there’s the gentle and unobtrusive nagging of the Guardian and Fark.

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Other sites, like GQ, Forbes, and Yahoo Mail, are experimenting with locking content away until users turn off their ad-blocking extension.


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This screengrab, showing Yahoo was barring the user from accessing their e-mail account, was posted to the AdBlock Plus forum earlier this week. Yahoo subsequently confirmed that it is blocking some users from their Yahoo Mail accounts.

Representatives of the Interactive Advertising Board, advertisers’ trade group, make compelling cases for why publishers should keep the users of ad-blockers from seeing their content, with the head of the IAB saying in a speech at an industry conference last week that users of ad-blockers are “stealing from publishers” and “operating a business model predicated on censorship of content.”

Yet, aside from the exceptions above, most sites aren’t doing much to stop us. One study showed that only 4% of sites are trying to block the blockers. A gentle reminder to disable the blockers on that site might be enough for some users to change, but locking up content keeps readers away.

Forbes found that 42% of users disabled their ad blockers to gain access to the site… but that means 58% simply closed the window or tab and walked away. (Appropriately, you’ll need to turn off your ad blocker to access that page.) While the ad industry is working behind the scenes to subvert ad-blocking extensions, it will probably remain rare for a while.

Why Most Websites Look the Other Way on Ad Blockers [Bloomberg News]

Ad Blockers Will Prevent You From Seeing $22B Worth Of Unwanted Ads This Year
Adblock Plus: Internet Heroes Or Banner Ad Shakedown Artists?

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  1. evogel says:

    I just invested in AdGuard because it does it at the network level on the computer and phone and not at the browser plug0in. I left the option checked to allow some ads in. Mainly the top 5 ad companies.

    This Sandy Bridge Core i5 (second gen) laptop has a hard time with Firefox. FF locks up and is slow. I have script blocker and flash blocker installed. Since I installed AdGuard, FF has been responsive and my laptop doesn’t drag as much. So, this tells you how bad most of these ads are…

  2. Cyborg says:

    Funny story:
    At work I use an ad blocker on Chrome but not on IE. Whenever I go to Forbes.com in IE I get their message about using an ad blocker, but whenever I use Chrome, I don’t get the message. I’m not sure if my company is blocking something at the network level that the ad blocker is able to work around, or if Forbes is somehow miss-identifying my IE install as having an ad blocker installed, but not seeing my Chrome ad blocker. Either way, Forbes’ anti-ad-blocking stance is currently having the opposite effect on my browsing.

  3. GoldHillDave says:

    I use an ad blocker. I don’t feel guilty because I NEVER NEVER click on ads anyway. I would be willing to turn off the ad blocker in exchange for ads that are no more annoying than those in magazines or newspapers, for example (NOT super annoying like the ads on TV, or worst, radio), but it would not matter, because ad revenue is driven by clicks, and I will NEVER NEVER click on an ad anyway.

    Slate (slate.com) is an example of a website that puts on annoying nags if one uses an ad blocker, but only on its mobile site, not its desktop site. Slate actually strives to make its website (including the desktop version) extra annoying for those who don’t pay their $50/year fee, by splitting articles into multiple pages, by putting comments on an overlay that doesn’t work half the time, and worst, by holding back some content for those who don’t succumb to its extortion.