Demanding a Better Ad Experience

Why One in Four Internet Users Say No to Ads

Executive Summary

Many consumers are frustrated with the advertising component of their media consumption experience—including on digital channels. A significant share in the US are saying no to ads, citing intrusive placements, annoying formats and simply too many messages.

Is ad blocking still a problem?

One in four US internet users say they block ads, which is equivalent to more than 70 million people. The growth in ad blocking has slowed significantly, but it is still rising, and the same frustrating ad experiences that have driven consumers to block ads continue to be a problem.

How is the digital media ecosystem fighting ad avoidance?

Publishers, advertisers, agencies and other partners believe that relevance is the best weapon in a digital marketer’s arsenal. Consumers are more receptive to ads for products and services that they might actually want, and will be less annoyed if the messaging makes sense for them and is timely. That’s the theory, at least.

Will relevant advertising satisfy digital media consumers?

The one problem with relevance is that it can creep consumers out; 2018 has been a year of consumer backlash, as users are concerned with how their data is being used to target them. While consumers are more receptive to relevant ads, they still don’t like being tracked.

What else can advertisers, publishers and their partners do about consumer annoyance at advertising?

Advertisers can take various steps, like ensuring better frequency capping and messaging based on customer lifecycle. The industry may also be moving toward lighter ad loads, at least in some channels.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report includes our estimates of US ad blocking users as well as insights on how brands are working to get consumers’ attention without being bothersome.

KEY STAT: One in four US internet users blocks ads this year on a regular basis, and that share will continue to rise as consumers express frustration with their digital advertising experiences.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. One in Four Internet Users Block Ads
  3. What’s So Bad About Ads Today?
  1. The Advertiser Mindset
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Brian Berger
Mack Weldon
Co-Founder, CEO
Interviewed October 9, 2018
Mark Connon
Interviewed October 29, 2018
Gina Garrubbo
National Public Media
President, CEO
Interviewed September 25, 2018
Marc Goldberg
Interviewed September 21, 2018
Chris Hansen
Chief Product Officer
Interviewed October 17, 2018
Palmer Houchins
Senior Marketing Manager
Interviewed September 26, 2018
Jim Johnson
Vice President, Account Planning
Interviewed October 18, 2018
Steve Kelly
Director, Media and Digital
Interviewed September 21, 2018
Mike Kisseberth
Chief Revenue Officer
Interviewed October 18, 2018
Ari Lewine
Founder, Chief Strategy Officer
Interviewed October 10, 2018
Claudia Page
Senior Vice President, Partner Products
Interviewed October 23, 2018
Simon de Beauregard
Pernod Ricard
Director, Engagement for Absolut, Malibu, Kahlua, Smithworks
Interviewed September 20, 2018
Ian Cunningham
Goodway Group
Account Director
Interviewed October 22, 2018
Kevin Hanley
Hero Digital
Senior Vice President, Marketing Services
Interviewed October 26, 2018
Laura Joukovski
Chief Media Officer, Textiles
Interviewed October 5, 2018
Colleen Kuehn
Chief Media Officer
Interviewed October 23, 2018
Stephen Kuhl
Co-Founder, CEO
Interviewed September 20, 2018
John Nevitt
Senior Vice President, Marketing
Interviewed September 5, 2018
Chris Rockwell
President, CEO
Interviewed October 10, 2018
Adam Singolda
Interviewed September 25, 2018
Eric Wheeler
Interviewed September 5, 2018

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Nicole Perrin


Caroline Cakebread
Junior Analyst
Bill Fisher
Senior Analyst
Lauren Fisher
Principal Analyst
Natalie McGranahan
Senior Researcher and Taxonomy Manager
Karin von Abrams
Principal Analyst

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