Ad Blocking Still Increasing Even as Some Consumers Say Ads Are Improving

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In an effort to thwart consumer adoption of ad blockers, marketers have increasingly focused on delivering an improved ad experience.

The idea is simple: If ads are great instead of a nuisance, fewer people will download ad blockers.

It's too early to tell whether that strategy will prove effective, but a study by Adobe suggests that it might have a long road ahead.

While 38% of U.S. respondents said they believed the ad experience online had gotten better in the past two years and 68% said it was either improving or at least not getting any worse, the proportion of people running ad blockers continued to grow.

Nearly 18% of the U.S. population connected to the internet ran ad blockers, the study said, up from 16% a year earlier.

Those who have downloaded ad blockers are also unlikely to uninstall them, as 89% said they have no plans on abandoning them.

Specific problems driving people to ad blocking, according to the study, include too many ads, over-targeting and abuse of personal data. The study suggests installing stringent frequency caps to combat the frequency issue.

Interestingly, 25-to-34-year-olds were the most likely to say their ad experience had gotten worse, with 38% saying so, compared with 30% of people 35 and older and 28% of 18-to-24-year-olds.

Those same 25-to-34-year-olds also were most likely to say marketers are effective at providing interesting ads (63%). About 57% of those 18 and older said marketers are effective at providing interesting ads.

The study found that 78% of consumers like personalized ads, but only 28% think they're tailored correctly. Twenty-six percent feel they are creepy or intrusive. The study said consumers are more likely to be engaged when using social media as "attention can be diverted." They are less likely to notice ads when doing something with intent, such as watching a video or using an app.

Only 19% of those surveyed said they found ads interesting or relevant on video, despite being in high demand among both publishers and advertisers. Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed said they find ads most relevant and interesting when browsing on the web for information.

The study gathered its data from 800 billion web visits to 800 North American websites from January 2013 to June 2016 and a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers in August 2016, the authors said.

Globally, monthly active desktop ad-blocking has grown 400% since January 2013 to 220 million. Sweden has the highest ad blocking rate at 28%, followed by Germany (27%), Denmark (26%) and Canada (24%).

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