Thomas Pence is a 22-year-old senior studying international business and marketing at NYU. He’s been coding since he was 11. By 16, he had created a fan site and social media presence for the international pop sensation Shakira. It’s worth noting that Shakira became the first person to rack up 100 million "likes" on Facebook.
Pence is also an avid ad blocker.
When I sat down to chat with Pence about ad blocking, his nonchalance was striking. First off, he’s been doing it a while. He consults on website design, UX and UI and has had several internships that have required extensive webwork. “The ads slow me down,” he said.
Pence downloaded a plug-in from the Google Chrome store a while back. The ad blocker is provided by Google, he noted. “It took two seconds to install and saved me hours of time that would have otherwise been spent having to watch ads.”
Can’t argue with that.
Pence has an ad blocker installed for Safari, Firefox and Chrome, and won't watch an entire YouTube video -- like the "Ellen" show clips he favors -- without blockers: “If I have to watch a 30-second ad when I might only watch 10 seconds of a video because I’m checking to see if I actually want to watch it, it’s annoying.” I’m with you, Thomas.
When he’s trying to choose music for the spinning class he teaches, he quickly searches 50 different videos in about 10 minutes to try all the songs out. He only listens to the songs for 10 seconds apiece. “If I have to watch the 30-second ad 50 times, I just give up.”
You and me both. And how many others? Millions. A June 2015 study by Page Fair and Adobe cited 198 million monthly active users who block ads. Usage of ad blockers in the U.S. grew by 48% in 2015, increasing to 45 million average monthly users in Q2 2015.
Pence said he’s also annoyed by what the networks do. “A lot of websites like ABC, NBC, etc. ask me to deactivate the ad block if I want to watch shows on their sites,” Pence noted. “That’s new in the last few weeks. I don’t do it. I‘d rather not watch the show. “ Networks, are you listening? Are you?
“I think ad blockers are really relevant today because people my age have such a low attention span," Pence said. "We consume content so fast, we don’t read entire articles or view videos completely. We only read 140-character tweets, if that. I haven’t read a book in years. I read summaries online and go on Wiki [for] all the important quotes for papers. I haven’t bought a book since freshman year and even then, I didn’t use it.”
This technologically precocious 22-year-old is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an exception -- he's the rule. And he’s beyond hip to the ad-industrial complex.
What, dear advertising industry, are you going to do about all the Thomas Pences of the world?