How Does the Adoption of Ad Blockers Affect News Consumption?
Shunyao Ya, Assistant Professor of Marketing
Yan, S., Miller, K. M., & Skiera, B. (2022). How Does the Adoption of Ad Blockers Affect News Consumption? Journal of Marketing Research, 59(5), 1002–1018. https://doi.org/10.1177/00222437221076160
Ad blockers allow users to browse websites without viewing ads. Online news publishers that rely on advertising income tend to perceive users’ adoption of ad blockers purely as a threat to revenue. Yet, this perception ignores the possibility that avoiding ads—which users presumably dislike—may affect users’ online news consumption behavior in positive ways. Using 3.1 million visits from 79,856 registered users on a news website, this research finds that ad blocker adoption has robust positive effects on the quantity and variety of articles users consume. Specifically, ad blocker adoption increases the number of articles that users read by 21.0%–43.2%, and it increases the number of content categories that users consume by 13.4%–29.1%. These effects are stronger for less-experienced users of the website. The increase in news consumption stems from increases in repeat visits to the news website, rather than in the number of page impressions per visit. These postadoption visits tend to start from direct navigation to the news website, rather than from referral sources. The authors discuss how news publishers could benefit from these findings, including exploring revenue models that consider users’ desire to avoid ads.