Study: Consumers Rarely Use Ad Blockers

While groups like the Interactive Advertising Bureau mull the idea of challenging the legality of the so-called “ad blockers,” new research shows that the blockers have yet to catch on with consumers.

A study by Forrester Research suggests that few Web surfers have used ad-blocking software like AdSubtract or the Junkbusters Proxy — though such products have been available for years.

Indeed, according to the study, only 1 percent of online consumers report that they use ad-blocking software. The chief reason for the software’s lack of popularity? For one thing, few consumers even know about it — a full 75 percent of the study’s respondents said they weren’t aware of the programs’ existence.

At any rate, even if ad blockers were better known, they’re unlikely to make a tremendous impact. Ninety-one percent of respondents said that even though they now know about ad-blocking software, they are either unwilling to use it, or unconcerned about seeing online ads.

Those responses largely were split between consumers who said they considered downloading and installing the software to be too much of a hassle, and others who simply said they weren’t interested in blocking ads.

Twelve percent of the study’s respondents, meanwhile, said they find online ads valuable and wouldn’t want them blocked entirely.

Just 15 percent of the study’s responses suggested that they now plan to investigate the ad blockers. But just how many will actually follow through on the effort remains in question as well — an earlier Forrester study suggested that only 7 percent of consumers have downloaded privacy-protecting software, although nearly 66 percent said they were worried about privacy.

“Software programs that block ads from a consumer’s Web browsing experience may sound like a great idea — but few consumers currently use one of these programs,” write study authors Christopher Kelley and Gillian DeMoulin. “Why? Most online consumers don’t take advantage of software designed to enhance their online experience.”

The study comes amid heightened concern among advertisers and advertising-supported Web publishers about new ad-blocking and ad-replacing technologies, such as (which is currently suing the IAB for, among other things, defamation).

At the same time, the IAB is ramping up efforts to potentially silence ad blockers, having recently established a Legal Affairs Committee. In a letter to members last month, the IAB said the new committee — which is comprised of attorneys from member companies — would discuss positions on ad blocking, among other topics.

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