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Users are open to ad filtering, allowing responsibly-managed ads while rejecting intrusive ones

Research conducted by eyeo and Aloha shows that balance is the key to a sustainable online future

Internet users are wise to the role that ads play in their online experience and in building a balanced internet. Ad filtering is a sustainable way to meet the varied and complex needs of these users, and can benefit all parties in the online value exchange. Many users are open to ads when they are managed in the right way, providing they also have the means to filter out the most annoying or invasive ones. The key is a sense of control and a non-compromised browsing experience.

Alternative browser and eyeo partner Aloha recently surveyed its users on their attitudes towards several of their browser features. What stood out were the attitudes towards online ads and perceptions of ad-blocking technology. Aloha is a private browser that promises its users added security through its built-in, unlimited VPN and an improved user experience through the default ad-blocking functionality powered by eyeo’s ad-filtering technology.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • More than 70% of users say they love or like their browser ad-blocking feature
  • More than 50% of users said that they don’t mind ads when they don’t interfere with their task, when they can control what kind of ads they see, or when they can control their data
  • 20% of users will knowingly turn off their ad blocker on certain sites out of a desire to support the website
  • 28% of users said that they are aware sites use circumvention techniques
  • Linked to the above, 24% of users have turned off their ad-blocking software because they were still seeing ads

The majority of users accept responsibly-managed ads

Attitudes towards ad blocking are nuanced and varied. There will always be a minority who want a completely ad-free experience (40% according to this survey), but the remaining 60% will happily accept advertising if certain conditions are met.

In reality, opinions towards ad blocking fall upon a broad spectrum. Other research backs up this assertion: data from GWI has shown that users who blocked ads in the past 30 days have also discovered products or brands via online ads, or have interacted with an online ad in that time.

Going back to our survey, the data reveals that over 40% of users said that they didn’t mind ads as long as they didn’t interfere with the task at hand. A further 13% said that they desired an element of control over which ads they see, while around 10% accept ads as long as they are able to control how their own data is used.

Users are also aware of the role that advertising plays in helping websites and publishers sustain themselves. 40% have disabled their ad blocker on a page of a site for any reason, and 20% will actively turn it off on specific sites out of a desire to support publishers. This is encouraging information, as it shows that users believe in a fair and balanced internet, and are willing to play their part if the ads they see aren’t annoying or intrusive (disruptive to their browser experience).

Circumventing ad blockers only feeds distrust

Despite this clear acceptance of nonintrusive ads, it’s also no secret that some websites and publishers are using circumvention techniques to bypass ad blockers and ad filters. 28% of users said they are aware that ad circumvention is being used, and 24% said they had turned off their ad-blocking software as they were still seeing ads. An additional 14% stated that they were seeing more ads than they expected to.

The implementation of these techniques is combative and benefits neither party. Ad circumvention only leads to distrust between users and publishers, which hampers efforts to develop a sustainable internet that works for all, and also has a negative impact on brand image.

Building a balanced internet, therefore, is about finding a middle ground. Solutions such as the Acceptable Ads Standard are instrumental to achieving this. If you want to find out more about Acceptable Ads, click here.

Moving forward with responsible advertising

For the most part, the research shows that internet users are open to advertising when certain conditions are met, while reserving the right to filter out the most invasive or intrusive ads. With this in mind, collaboration – rather than confrontation – is the way forward. At eyeo, we embrace ad filtering as the best way for advertisers and publishers to monetize their content, without damaging the user experience. Through this approach, lasting trust between all stakeholders can be built.

Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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