How Many People Use Ad Blockers? And What Does It Mean for My Adspend
Diversifying Ad Spend5 MIN READ
Marketers everywhere are trying to overcome a growing trend known as "ad avoidance." This issue is seen most clearly in how many people use ad blockers and why.
The adoption of ad blockers over the last two decades informs advertisers, media buyers, and marketers on the effectiveness of their ad campaigns. Furthermore, it makes achieving marketing goals infinitely more difficult for ad-dependent brands (hence, the unique and at times extreme exodus from always-on paid media strategies).
What is Ad Avoidance?
Ad avoidance is any action a user takes to block, skip, or ignore ads in their browser or feed.
Since authentic content creation has experienced a renaissance in the last 10 years (the birth of the Creator Economy), ad avoidance is at an all-time high. What began as cooperative efforts to protect devices and privacy is now a movement to enjoy an ad-free user experience.
For marketers and content creators who know how to connect with their audience on an emotional level, this is great news. They are better able to reach their audience and build powerful communities devoted to activism, smarter buying, and mutual support.
But for advertisers and PPC platforms, the surge in ad avoidance is proving a real challenge, particularly in the retirement of third-party cookies.
How Do Ad Blockers Work?
An ad blocker is any digital tool (software, plugin, extension, etc.) that actively prevents ads from loading on apps and websites.
Originally, ad blocker technology helped users protect their devices from malware or viruses posing as commercial advertising. Today, people use ad blockers to prevent as many ads from loading as possible for a better user experience.
Blockers try to examine the original domain of an ad, determine whether or not it is advertising, and (if the AI perceives it to be an ad) prevents the graphic from loading. Not all ad blockers work equally well, and some websites are able to keep ad blockers off the platform. For these reasons, ad blockers don't work 100% of the time.
Why Do People Use Ad Blockers?
Security is a big reason why people use blockers, but it is not the most common. In a Hootsuite user study, most claimed to use blockers because they were annoyed by ads in general.Across multiple surveys, the top reasons why people use ad blockers are:
- Ads are obnoxious, intrusive, or irrelevant.
- Ads pose a security or privacy risk.
- Some ads are highly inappropriate.
Ad Blocker Technology Versus Manual Ad Blocking
Marketers who use ad blocker stats to understand how many of their ads don't reach viewers often miss additional data, such as the volume of people who manually skip or block ads on their computer or device.
For example, Wave.Video collected studies from HubSpot, ORC, and IPG and noted that...
- 9 out of 10 pre-roll video ads get skipped
- 65% of users actively look for ad skipping options when loading a new video
- 3 out of 4 users have developed a religious habit of skipping video ads on places like YouTube and TikTok
Last year, eMarketer also found:
Most consumers now proactively avoid advertising, whether by using ad blockers, paying for ad-free digital media experiences, or skipping ads.
How Many People Use Ad Blockers?
It's not totally clear how many people use ad blockers. But based on the volume of sessions, experts believe that the number of ad blocker users are in the millions.
Worldwide Ad Blocker Statistics
The worldwide average for ad blockers is 37%. In other words, just under 40% of internet users around the world use ad blocking technology in some form.The top five countries that use ad blockers are Vietnam, China, Indonesia, South Africa, and Taiwan. Internet users most comfortable without ad blockers are Nigeria, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, and Ghana.
Ad Blocking in the United States
The United States ad blocker usage is just under the worldwide average at 34.2%.
Ad Blocking By Age
By and large, younger users are bigger fans of ad blockers. Men between the ages of 25 and 34 years old are the leading ad blocker users. Interestingly, women are statistically less likely to use ad blockers over men, though females between 25 and 34 are a close third behind males 16-24 years old.
Which Industries are More At Risk for Ad Blockers?
The industry most at risk for ad blocking is the adult entertainment business. Anything that appears sexually explicit or otherwise offensive are nearly always removed by ad blockers and virus/malware protection.
Secondarily, many consumer goods industries suffer at the hands of ad blockers. Consumers don't like ads, choosing instead to avoid them and engage content they find compelling.
Business-to-business advertising is the least likely to encounter ad blocking. Many B2B platforms actually require users to disable ad blockers before they can join the platform.
5 High-Performing Alternatives to Traditional Ad Spend
Ad avoidance is a real problem for marketers, and it's growing. Diversifying your ad spend won't just help you reach ad-resistant buyers, it will actually lower your costs and increase your conversions.
An ad-diversified marketing strategy nearly always improves your organic performance, which in turn makes your brand more appealing and authentic to buyers. Here are five great alternatives to traditional advertising.
1. Authentic Content Marketing
There is no substitute for great content. To achieve great content, creators (including brand marketers) must find their voice, test content types, and engage people who think similarly.
Great content marketing costs nothing. By virtue of its ability to resonate with others, "going viral" is always a possibility, and the vote of the masses can make a single post more powerful than any paid ad.
Even for brands with enterprise advertising budgets, authentic content marketing is critical. That's why branded social posts, SEO-friendly blogs, downloadable eguides, vlogs, and podcasts are among the best ways to attract fans and loyal customers.
2. User-Generated Content (UGC)
For brands that invest resources in content, they gradually connect with members of their audience, and those people start mentioning and tagging the brand online. Every time this happens, user-generated content (UGC) is born, and these positive mentions are invaluable.
UGC can exist as brand mentions on social posts, backlinks from a popular blog/article/online publication, online reviews, influencer marketing campaigns, and more.
3. Community & Micro Influencer Marketing
Community influencers are creators that don't just have a lot of followers and likes, they curate strong bonds with and among their online communities. As a result, these influencers' opinions accompany a high level of trust with buyers.Most high-performing community influencers are micro influencers (creators with less than 500,000 engaged followers). Their smaller size makes them more accessible and connected with their audience.
Brands that nurture brand community with the help of community influencers can generate serious returns on modest budgets. These partnerships also power greater organic growth for brands.
4. Brand Ambassador & Referral Marketing Programs
Brand ambassador and referral programs (both powerful word-of-mouth marketing tactics) overlap somewhat with community influencer marketing. The exception is that these programs welcome brand advocates with much smaller audiences.
It's not uncommon for people with fewer than 1,000 followers to still drive conversions for the brands they love. A great ambassador or referral program rewards people for bringing people into the brand community, whether it be through exclusive discounts, perks, competitions, gift cards, and more.
5. Paid Amplification
Paid amplification is a nuanced paid ad approach that only boosts high-performing content.
For example, amplifying a popular UGC post, a viral video, etc. in a paid campaign is paid amplification. The goal of this approach is to increase the reach of a piece of content you already know will do well.
For marketers that know their audience well, they can manage these campaigns using types of content and messaging that they already know will resonate. Often, paid amplification seeks to look more organic or native, such as an influencer whitelisting campaign or an ad the looks and feels more like a regular post.
Ad blockers and ad avoidance don't mean that your brand should have a harder time acquiring new customers. Furthermore, the number of people using ad blockers shouldn't keep from you getting rid of paid ads completely.
Rather, trends in ad blockers, ad-skipping, etc. mean that it's time to diversity your ad spend. Thankfully, you don't have to go at it alone. Some of the best marketing strategies use Community Commerce techniques by activating repeat customers, engaged followers, happy employees, and more to promote the brand authentically.
These organic approaches to marketing significantly lower your marketing costs while also increasing the potency of each marketing initiative on behalf of your brand.