HubSpot On Why People Block Ads, And What It Means For Marketers

HubSpot, a content marketing tech platform that got savaged in Dan Lyon’s recent book "Disrupted," has conducted some research on why people block ads, and it's worth reading.

(Separately, RTBlog hopes HubSpot has made some changes to its purportedly shady business practices and culture. In any case, those of you who have read the book may take this research with a grain a salt, but it's still worth a look.)

HubSpot notes that it sees a lot of “annoying” ads.  It set out to ask: “Is there a way that content producers and ad publishers can make money without creating a hugely disruptive and annoying ad experience? What kind of advertising do online browsers tolerate today, and why do they use ad blockers to begin with?”



Good questions.

HubSpot partnered with AdBlock Plus on the research. Of course AdBlock Plus is also not without attendant controversy, so keep that in mind.

The findings are interesting. HubSpot’s survey of 1,055 online browsers in the U.S. and Europe found that they disliked pop-up ads, mobile ads, and video ads the most. For example, 73% of respondents said they dislike pop-up ads, and 70% dislike them on their mobile phones. Those are two important data points. People were only slightly less bothered by pre-roll ads before a video plays on YouTube: 57%.

Mostly offline ads like magazine and print ads and TV ads are viewed more favorably. Magazine ads bothered the respondents the least: 18%. And 40% of the respondents reported ads bothered them on Facebook.

HubSpot also asked respondents about specific ad types and scenarios. It found that the most frustrating experience for online browsers involves full-page pop-up ads that require the user to find an “X” to remove the ads. In fact, 91% of respondents said ads are more intrusive today compared to two to three years ago, and 87% agree there are more ads in general.  In addition, 79% also feel that they’re being tracked as a result of retargeted ads.

Notably, 83% of respondents agree that not all ads are bad, but they want to filter out the really obnoxious ones. Seventy-seven percent say they would prefer to ad-filter rather than completely ad-block. HubSpot contends that this might represent a ray of hope for the industry, because if ad blocker users could simply filter out specific ad types, like pop-ups or video ads, perhaps it would be enough. A majority of respondents also agree that most online ads today don’t look professional and are insulting to their intelligence (63% and 56%, respectively).

Perhaps the most interesting finding is that people find out about ad blockers through word of mouth. HubSpot found that 41% of current ad blocker users in the study discovered blockers by word of mouth, and 37% learned about ad blocking from browsing the Web. The study found that for the most part, exposure to ad blockers appears to be an organic, word-of-mouth phenomenon.

There are a lot more findings. But HubSpot concludes that the main reasons people block ads are that they find ads “annoying and intrusive,” and “disruptive," that ads “create security concerns,”  and “ads affect load time and bandwidth usage.”

Mobile is the latest battleground for ad blocking, of course. An Information Weekfinding estimated mobile ad blocking growth at 90% year over year, with 429 million people globally using an ad blocker on their mobile phone.

There’s no reliable third-party source for data collection on ad blocking yet. So take this with a grain of salt. These numbers are all over the place depending on the source.

Ads keep the lights on, as Wired points out. The publisher asks readers to add Wired to their ad blocker’s whitelist or pay $1 a week for an ad-free version. “Either way, you’re supporting journalism. We’d really appreciate it.”

2 comments about "HubSpot On Why People Block Ads, And What It Means For Marketers ".
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  1. Neil Mahoney from Mahoney/Marketing, July 14, 2016 at 11:30 a.m.

    As a long-in-the-tooth ad man and former publisher of B2B magazines that relied on ads for revenue to keep the lights on, I can tell you that ad blocking occurs because Internet ads are intrusive to the readers.  Ads in print media don't interfere with the readers who are enjoying articles of interest.  The ads are quietly sitting there inviting the readers to look at them, not jumping into their faces and interrupting them like a bunch of irritating clowns 

  2. Neil Mahoney from Mahoney/Marketing, July 14, 2016 at 11:39 a.m.

    PS: The ads I find least iritating on the Internet are subheads that invite the reader to click on them to view a message.  They're usually posted in between paragraphs in blue print.  I can click on them or not.  I wouldn't recommend overloading the news stories with them, but that's one way to overcome the situation.  As I say in my book, "The Internet's free; what do you want for nothing??"

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