10 Facts About Ad Blocking Users – Question #3: Do Ad Blockers Block Brand Discovery?

In Thought leadershipby AAX TeamLeave a Comment

The short (and the long) answer? No.

Every customer journey—no matter whether the map exhibits a straight, highway-like line or a meandering set of loop-de-loops—starts out with the act of brand discovery.

Discovery might sound like a light bulb moment, the kind of action that results in a big "Aha!" but it's more process than flash of inspiration. Think of the in-depth archeological process that lead to opening King Tut's tomb, rather than the instant the sarcophagus is revealed.

And it comes to brand discovery, the archeologist is the customer and the reveal is, as reporter Lisa Lacy phrases it, "what he or she does not know he or she wants." Ads are what unites a customer and that elusive "what he or she does not know he or she wants."

Ad blocking users are more likely than non- ad blocking users to find out about new products online

An understandable fear is that ad blockers stand in the way of brand discovery, and that users who have elected to put a barrier between themselves and the world of advertising will never experience the understanding of what he or she wants.

But luckily that fear is unfounded.

In fact, the data shows that ad blocking users are more likely to discover brands than those users who don't user an ad blocker in three major ways: on websites, via stories and articles on newspaper or magazine websites, and ads seen on any online activity (e.g. apps and websites).

  • 25.6% of ad blocking users find out about new products on websites, versus 23.9% of non- ad blocking users
  • When it comes to ads seen on all online activity—including mobile and apps—nearly 30% of ad blocking users report brand discovery. Non- ad blocking users lag by a percentage point.
  • 16.1% of ad blocking users discover brands via online articles, compared to 12.6% of non- ad blocking users
Selective ad blocking users are the most primed for discovery

But both ad blocking users and non- ad blocking users lag behind so-called selective ad blocking users, a name that refers to the nearly 200 million users who have blocked ads in the past month, but who discover brands or products through ads seen online and have clicked on an online ad in the past month.  

One method that selective ad blocking users use is now commonly referred to as ad filtering, which allows users to see unobtrusive, respectful forms of advertisement. These are "Acceptable Ads"—one that fit the criteria set forth by the independent Acceptable Ads Committee.

And these users are champion brand discoverers.

23.6% of selective ad blocking users discover new products via online newspaper or magazine articles. That’s more than 7 percentage points more than ad blocking users.

But the difference is even starker when it comes to website and online ads.

  • 59.7% of selective ad blocking users discover brands on websites. That's more than twice as likely as ad blocking users and 2.5 times as likely as non-ad blocking users.
  • 64.8% of selective ad blocking users learn about new brands via online activity including apps and websites. Again, that's more than twice as likely as ad blocking and non- ad blocking users.

The act of brand discovery is a process rather than a sudden revelation. But the discovery of this data feels a bit like a light bulb coming on. Selective ad blocking users' finding out about new brands might not happen in a flash of inspiration, but we find this information absolutely inspirational.

To say that the team at AAX is interested in ad blocking users is an understatement. We're fascinated.

So we decided to consult the mass trove of data that GlobalWebIndex (GWI) keeps about internet behavior in order to tease out some of the particularities of the group. We took our findings and compiled "10 Things You Didn't Know About Ad Blocking Users," a study that peers into everything from digital content purchasing (which is what you just read about) to preferences for pets and real estate.

The study will be published on January 16, 2020.


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