Blocking ads, the solution or not?

popupadsPeter Engelshove – Blocking ads, the solution or not?

KLM deals, Telfort’s new all-in-one package and your favourite shoes with an enormous discount. All of them fancy advertisements and with one click there’re gone while surfing the web. Ad blocking is a serious attack on online advertising. But is it a trend? According to the Encyclo dictionary the definition of a trend is: a development in a certain direction, for example in the category: mode, music, technique or language. Ad blocking definitely seems to be a trend, because it is a growing development. Already 200 million people are using ad blocking en this number grew last year with 20%.

At the ‘Shift’ event in London, a couple of experts told their vision about ad blocking. Steve Chester, director of data and industry programmes, thinks people should get a choice between ads. According to him, ad blocking clears the mess but it should retain the qualitatively good ads. Give people the opportunity between a pleasant paid experience with neat ads or an experience like it is now. But according to Chester: “At the moment users don’t have a choice”. Ad blocking also provides an added value to users. They get the opportunity to clear all ads, so that they will have an improved download speed on webpages. Beside users won’t be bothered by obtrusive ads anymore. According to Ian Leslie, author and brand strategist, people will keep using ad blockers until there are ads which will enjoy them.

I think ad blocking is a meso trend, because the subject is at the consumers’ level. Beside it creates attention on people in the digital advertisement sector, who have to watch their job. Ad blocking is based on the mega trend ‘to liberate people’. The corresponding micro trends are plugins like “Adblock Plus”, “Noscript” and even Apple’s web browser “Safari”. Nowadays Safari is also blocking ads. If you look at the lifecycle of ad blocking, then you see ad blocking is between the ‘turning point’ en the ‘followers’ period. Despite that millions of people are using ad blocking, it is a trend that’s still growing until it slowly reaches its maximum. Ad blocking will keep existing, but will get another function in the future. Adblock Plus, Reddit and several other organisations have composed a ‘Manifesto’, whereby they want to allow acceptable ads. These ads must cope with these composed Manifesto rules. In that way people will get a pleasant experience, whereby digital advertisement is still in the game. An other option are the native ads. In this way spam ads will be cleared while the native ads will be retained.

Hannes Ben, International at Forward3D, concludes the following: “Having advertising that doesn’t compromise the online experience of users is crucial to combating the actual reasons that most people would think of using an ad blocker in the first place”. If there weren’t any unpleasant ads, the invention of ad blockers wouldn’t be necessary. But now they are present, this could be the extinction of online advertising. However, research of GOO Technologies proofed that 82% of the people ignores online advertisements. So why are people even using ad blocking?


Encyclo. (2016). Trend – 21 definities. Retrieved 6 September, 2016, from

Newsworks. (2016). The ad blocking debate: you decide. Retrieved 7 September, 2016, from

Warc. (2015). Trend Snapshot: Ad blocking. Retrieved 6 September, 2016, from

Acceptable ads. (2014). Acceptable Ads Manifesto. Retrieved 7 September, 2016, from

Allen, K. (2014). Survey finds most people ignore online ads. Retrieved 7 September, 2016, from


5 thoughts on “Blocking ads, the solution or not?

  1. Nice article, you adress the right topics. You could add a bit more explanation in a few places. E.g. what do you mean with the megatrend ‘to liberate people’ or what is native advertising (I know, but probably some readers don’t)? Also look at the APA rules when it comes to refering in the text. With APA you always mention a year after you mention the name of the source. But overall nice work, with a good closing question.


  2. Hi Peter,

    Let’s start with a confession, I am guilty of blocking ads. I think it is interesting that you said that it is a meso trend. I would say it is a micro trend. It is a simple ‘product’ to help people get rid of their ads. I think this comes from a meso trend/consumer need in which people want to keep up with their busy lives (not be interrupted by ads) and gives people back their own choice (like you said) in whether or not they want to see ads. This comes from the mega trend individualism in which consumers want to have their personal needs recognised rather than being part of the mass market. I don’t now if that is what you meant when you talked about the mega trend ‘to liberate people’.

    To come back to your question. In the one of the last parts of your article you said that Hannes Bent from Forward3D said that without annoying ads, adblockers wouldn’t be necessary. After that you state that research shows that 82% of the people ignore ads and you ask why we still block ads. I think you just answered your question there. I (and I think most other people) use adblockers because ads can be so bloody annoying. The small video advertisement before a Youtube video, the pop-ups when going to a website and so on. I think we could find a solution in making rules about which advertisement is allowed and which is not. Because as long as the (in my opinion) annoying advertisements exists, I will keep using my adblock.

    Merle Veurman 1636541

    Trend-Monitor. Megatrend #4 Individualism (8 June 2016). Retrieved 15 September from


  3. Hi Peter,

    Very relevant article for students of CMD and nicely written.

    The topic you discuss in your article is in my opinion kind of a vicious cycle. There are two sides to the story.

    On the one hand, you have the counterpart of online ads. They use ad blockers to avoid advertisements that they find annoying and aren’t relevant to them.

    On the other hand, you have the people that allow the advertisements and don’t use ad blockers. This either could be people that don’t know of the existence of ad blockers or people that like the idea of advertisements getting more personalized.

    Like you discussed in your article, the people that use ad blockers are also blocking content that could be of relevance to them. And I think that is one of the main problems on this matter. We tend to forget that the public internet has only been around for about 20 years or so and doesn’t work exactly like we want it to work, because we don’t know everything yet (Leiner et al., n.d.). The fact that we just started exploring the possibilities of advertising on the web is the reason we are no good at it (yet). But, by blocking away all the ads, advertisers won’t be able to make more personalized advertisements for you. By blocking them away the advertisers won’t stop, they will only try harder and harder to get to you, and you will continue to try and block the ads what ruins your internet experience.

    Nowadays, regulations on internet are becoming more strict. What if you can’t use services like ad block any more because they get forbidden by the government?

    Leiner, B., Cerf, V., Clark, D., Kahn, R., Kleinrock, L., Lynch, D., . . . Wolff, S. (n.d.). Brief History of the Internet. Retrieved 6 September, 2016, from


  4. I do use adblock, and I tell you why. If a site shows ads, I always try to ignore them. But when you look at the website as a whole you always notice the ads just because the design of the ad doesn’t belong on the site. I already find this quite annoying and unsatisfying. We, as humans, see more than we conciously know which means I already saw that the Levi collection has a 30% discount on Zalando, without me knowing it. And don’t forget the ads that are impossible to ignore. On Youtube for instance. This is a site I use on daily basis and I can’t image watching 5 to 30 second ads every time I want to watch a video. It’s not even funny anymore. So there is a small program (that takes less then 3 seconds to install) that can filter all these things out for me. I do admit I deeply loath ads in every scenario. Also on the radio, on the streets, etc. Just the fact they are based on the fact that they are trying to sell or promote something doesn’t feel good. No matter if they are funny or not, I just can’t seem to like them. This isn’t everybody’s case of course. But still adblock is very viable for many internet users who don’t want to waste time on Youtube ads for instance. The downside is that the people who show ads are the ones that suffer the most from adblock. A youtuber gets money for every ad that has been watched. So if I block this ad, the youtuber doesn’t get his money. With this in mind I sometimes think of disabling the adblock. On some sites I even do so, just to help the creaters a little more. But still. In my opions ads are so annoying I don’t think it’s the right way to earn money. I rather block them than disabling them to support the people I like. I hope adblock will become so populair that online advertisement won’t be a good business model anymore and we see less of them in the future.


  5. (I’m a resitter so therefore the late response)

    Great topic (which is why I chose to respond to it 😉 ), I think the algorithms today are not advanced enough to make online advertisements even remotely pleasant. For example, I once googled for an image of a 50 eurocent coin that I could use for an art project. It is now 3 weeks later and I am still getting bombarded with ads of websites offering stockimages of 50, 20 and 10 eurocent coins… And then you have the video-advertisements which are even more annoying. It’s ridiculous that you have to sit through a (up to) 30 second ad in order to watch a 1 minute Youtube video. Especially the video-ads make it hard to ignore them so I think adblockers are definitely a good thing.

    On the other hand, there are a lot of people that rely on the ad revenue they make on their websites/blogs/video’s. I personally think if these people are really living by the skin of their teeth and need every dollar, we shouldn’t have those adblocks on. For example Youtube content creator Jack Conte made a little under $6000 over the course of 6 years on a video that has 4 million views. It sounds like a lot, but at the same time it doesn’t considering how much time and effort goes into making a popular video like that and it really came down to $1000 a year. But if you would make 30 more of those video’s, it would suddenly become interesting.

    And I do think differently about people that are more comfortable, they should seek out less obnoxious ways to gain revenue like sponsors even. Everything is better than the video’s that you are forced to watch. It doesn’t mean everybody hates advertisements though. I’ve come across ads myself that lead me to cool stuff. And according to many different researches and surveys, people are most definitely interested in seeing advertisements as long as it is adjusted to their interests. So what would we say is the bottleneck here? It is probably the poor and underdeveloped algorithms.

    Timo van Vliet 1645312

    Bambi Turner (2015) Can you make a living on Youtube?, retrieved from:

    Kimberlee Morrison (2016), Internet users want a more personalized ad experience (report), retrieved from:


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