Point Of View | Published October 10, 2016

Why Ad Blockers Are Not a Mute Button for Your Brand

By: Kate Austin
Channel Coordinator

Ad blockers – two dreaded words for digital marketers. But they shouldn’t be the digital trend that keeps you up at night.

While ad blockers are certainly not new to the digital landscape, their usage has grown 34% in the past year, reaching nearly 70 million U.S. web users. Putting the power in the hands of the consumer, ad blockers are browser extensions that allow internet users to block almost all forms of video and display ads while they’re online. Most ads a user comes across will be removed or replaced with content determined by the ad blocker. This content could range from news to funny cat pictures, depending on the ad blocker that suits the user’s interests. Users of ad blockers are typically the most engaged users online. They have high incomes, are well educated, and are early adopters of new products. The primary users of ad blockers are men ages 18–34 years old.

Although advertisers see revenue loss from ad blockers, publishers suffer even more because a majority of their revenue comes from ad placements. To combat this, publishers are increasingly preventing users from viewing content if they have ad blockers enabled. However, Adblock Plus, an ad blocking service used on over 100 million devices, has implemented “acceptable ads.” The program allows publishers to buy whitelisted ad space to be served to Adblock Plus users. An “acceptable ad” is one that meets Adblock Plus’ criteria for nonintrusive advertising, meaning the ad must comply with their standards for ad placement, distinction, size and type.

Consumers use ad blockers mainly because of the perception that sites are easier to navigate – and thus create an uninterrupted, more positive experience – without ads. Users also believe ads slow down browsing and page loading, particularly on their smartphones, contributing to a 90% increase in the use of ad blockers on mobile devices from 2015 to 2016. According to The New York Times, 1 in 5 smartphone users (almost 420 million people worldwide) use ad blockers on their mobile devices.

Though the number of ad blocker users is on the rise, two-thirds are open to disabling their ad blockers – especially if publishers make content unavailable to those using ad blockers. This is particularly relevant, as 20% of those who no longer use ad blockers quit for this very reason. Users are also willing to consider dropping their ad blockers if they’re confident that ads won’t autoplay, contain malware/viruses or cause slow browsing speeds.

In order to make your digital marketing more effective, Meers suggests that marketers:

  • Give users peace of mind.
    While making users aware of a site’s safety is primarily in the hands of publishers, it’s a best practice to place your ads on trusted sites where they are most likely to be seen. Meers’ vendor partners whitelist and blacklist sites to benefit your brand and ensure that all ads we place are exclusively on credible, brand-safe websites.
  • Don’t disrupt their browsing.
    While 83% of users agree that not all ads are bad, they would like to filter out the disruptive ones. With countless ways to place your ads digitally, choose placements that won’t contribute to a negative user experience.
  • Go native.
    With native advertising, you can avoid getting blocked while placing your advertisement alongside the content that users are engaging with. You’re also borrowing from the credibility and brand reputation of the publisher, which can make the consumer more open to receiving your message – and more likely to convert.
  • Go social.
    Facebook has done a wonderful job of understanding why consumers dislike ads, and in turn have made the ads they serve completely transparent. This means users can control their advertising settings and see why they are being served a particular ad. With their investment in transparency, Facebook is now fighting to keep ads by warding off ad blockers. As of now, most Facebook ads are unblockable, but right column ads are still vulnerable. This means that ads placed within the Facebook feed are still secure from being blocked. In other words, by placing ads directly into Facebook feeds, you’ll achieve a similar effect and payoff to native advertising.


Ad blockers will not be the death of digital advertising, but they are a good motivation for improving a form of advertising that has become increasingly blocked by web users. Above all else, consumers want an uninterrupted, seamless online experience, and they perceive display ads to get in the way of that. Meers’ capabilities will help your brand navigate and combat the rise of ad blockers. Our focus on increasing receptivity to digital ads through precise targeting allows us to reach the right users at the right time for your brand.

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