In a September 2015 report, eMarketer quoted a Fractl and Moz study which found that 63% of U.S. millennials use ad-blocking software. I must admit, that despite working in digital journalism, I am now one of those millennials.
Other studies have found different incidences of ad blocking among millennials -- but what is clear from all surveys is that a significant portion of Internet users have had enough of the often (but not always) overbearing presence of digital ads.
Probably behind the curve, I only started using ad blockers at the start of 2016, at first based on general curiosity. While never really having a visceral aversion to ads, I found them a nuisance when that extra click or distracting banner began to take a toll.
As many have noted, ads can slow down one’s online experience, they can distract from the content on the page, and they're often poorly targeted. I have faced these three issues when conducting research, which helped grow my interest in seeing what my Internet experience would be like without all the ads.
Ad blocking had a noticeable and refreshing impact on my ability to discover content and remain focused on the task at hand. I was no longer weirded-out by retargeted ads that followed me around the Net, and I became less frustrated with page loading times.
However, when I'm asked to disable my ad-blocking plugin, more often than not I will comply. For example, just the other day I was reading a piece about ad blocking at The Guardian Web site when I saw a small banner at the bottom of the page asking if I could please disable the ad blocker.
After I'd done so and refreshed the page, one simple banner ad for British Airways appeared. I’m traveling to London next week, which made me think, “This ad is pretty relevant to me and doesn’t appear to be hampering my work-flow in any noticeable way” -- other than the fact that I'd paused to think about the ad.
I’ve disabled my ad blocker on other sites as well, but with a heavy preference for news sites. Quiet appeals -- like what I found on The Guardian site -- work best, in my opinion. When I see pop-ups that ask me to stop blocking, instead of complying, I'm just annoyed that I have to click again to get to the content.