Ad blocking is popular with users, but so is Acceptable Ads

Ad blocking is popular with users, but so is Acceptable Ads

Browsers, Users, Publishers, Acceptable Ads, Ad filtering, Ainhoa Leinweber, 27. May 2021

Research shows that large numbers of users do not mind seeing ads if they are nonintrusive and don’t interfere with the browsing experience

Building a sustainable internet where the needs of users, publishers and advertisers are all met is one of the modern web’s great challenges. This is something that we have worked on from the beginning of our existence at eyeo and that we are very happy to see addressed by industry research and acknowledged by users.

Ad blocking has been a popular option for many users for several years now, so much so that browsers have been incorporating this feature into their offerings by default. This development has grown from a desire among users to see fewer intrusive adverts and have their privacy protected at all times.

However, to build a fair value exchange in the long term, advertisers and publishers need the means to sustain themselves to continue creating content that makes the internet so valuable. This complex situation led to the emergence of Acceptable Ads, a middle ground solution that offers users a better browsing experience by blocking most ads and only showing a small amount of advertisements that fit the prerequisite criteria established by the independent Acceptable Ads Committee. This allows advertising to remain an integral part of the browsing experience, but in a way that is responsible and nonintrusive.    

Findings from Blockthrough’s 2021 PageFair Adblock Report have revealed that users  overwhelmingly support the idea of a fair value exchange and are highly likely to welcome Acceptable Ads in their browsing experience. This shows us that it’s possible to protect privacy and not compromise user experience, while still supporting the open web. 


Ad blocking on the up?

What is interesting to see in Blockthrough’s report is that desktop ad blocking has increased by 8% in 2020 when compared to 2019, and there has been a 10% increase in mobile ad blocking. Mobile in particular is a major growth area, driven largely by browsers that block ads by default.

So why do users turn to ad blockers? The main motivators reported were avoiding interruptive or annoying ad experiences, protecting from the threat of malware, and maintaining user privacy. While others relate to device performance, including the desire to save battery or bandwidth, 36% of users said overall ad quality has declined in the last few years, and only 19% responded it has improved. This brings us to the crux of the matter: it isn’t the ads themselves that are the problem, just the way they’re presented in some cases.

Privacy front of mind

The report also reveals that the importance of online privacy is increasing among users; 56% consider it extremely important, and 31% say it’s somewhat important. What’s more, only 14% of users believe that regulations such as GDPR or CCPA actually enhance their privacy.

Despite the privacy-minded nature of today’s internet users, 74% say they don’t mind seeing ads as long as they conform to strict privacy standards, and 69% will accept all or at least some types of cookies when visiting a website. This goes to show that building and maintaining this trust will be vital in making responsible advertising a success.

Acceptable Ads to the rescue

For ad blockers that support the Acceptable Ads Standard, users on both desktop and mobile devices have a 93% opt-in rate. Mobile opt-ins in particular have increased by 435% since the start of 2019, which shows that if ads aren’t too intrusive or annoying, users are fine with seeing them. The consent mechanism for Acceptable Ads is also at the browser or extension level, meaning users don’t have to opt in every time they visit a site. Furthermore, user choice and control is fully considered. Users Have the freedom and choice to opt out of Acceptable Ads at any time if they wish.

Acceptable Ads are rising in popularity with publishers amongst the 100 Comscore publishers in the US. – out of those 100 publishers, 63 take measures to monetize ad-blocking users and 53 do that via Acceptable Ads. Like users, publishers see that a healthy ecosystem can be created, where light-touch advertising helps to sustain content creators while persuading users to not resort to ad blocking en masse.

Making the lighter touch a success

There’s clearly work to be done to make advertising more palatable to users, but there’s also a tangible way forward for every stakeholder. Browsers incorporating ad blocking with Acceptable Ads filter lists into their services is a positive step, as is the willingness of both users and publishers to compromise on what advertising should look like.

The next step is for the entire ecosystem to work together to make nonintrusive advertising the norm: this means having advertisers and publishers listen closely to user feedback, and ad-blocking users being more open to seeing the occasional bit of publicity for a product or service on their browsers in order to help fund the content they so much love to see. With everyone on board, there’s definitely a path towards a sustainable future for the internet.