Despite the majority still having a negative attitude towards online ads, fewer people are annoyed with the ads they are exposed to. At the same time, fewer people are using ad blockers.

In a new study on the attitude towards advertising and use of ad blocking, we see that ad block usage is dropping, raising the question of whether ad blocking has reached its peak.

Online ads are still not particularly loved (the majority of the online population still has a negative attitude towards ads on websites and in online video clips). Especially not online video ads, where more than two-thirds are annoyed with the ads. However, when comparing with numbers from 2018, we see that fewer people today are annoyed with the ads they are exposed to – both when it comes to ads on websites and online video ads.

Fewer people use ad blockers

Whether this development has had an impact on the use of ad blocking is hard to tell. However, when looking at how many are using ad blockers, we also see that these numbers are decreasing. From 2016 to 2020, the share of the online population using ad blockers has decreased across all countries. Today, less than one-third in the Nordics are using ad blockers, while Germany – with close to half of the online population (48%) using ad blockers – is the country where ad blocking is most widespread. In the US and UK, 41% and 36% are using ad blockers, respectively.

One thing, though, is how many people are using ad blockers, another thing is how many sessions are blocked by ad blockers. When it comes to sessions blocked by ad blockers, the picture is more varied. That said, the overall trend still is that fewer sessions are blocked.

In Germany, Sweden and Finland, we see a small increase in the share of sessions blocked on the computer, while this decreases in the US, Denmark, Norway and especially the UK. At the same time – despite the time spent on mobile keeps increasing – we see that the share of sessions blocked on the mobile is decreasing in both the UK, Germany, Denmark and Norway. Only in the US and Sweden, do we see a small increase in the share of sessions blocked on mobiles. In Finland, it is status quo.

Ad relevance still a big issue

Though ad blocking is decreasing, we still see that irrelevant ads are a big issue. In most countries, more than half of the online population finds that the online ads they are exposed to are irrelevant to them. In Finland, this goes for more than three-quarters (77%) of the online population. In comparison, it is just about one in ten who feels that the online ads they receive are relevant to them.

As also shown in our previous ad blocking study, ad relevance remains one of the main reasons for using ad blockers. Ad blocking users are primarily using ad blockers to get cleaner websites, and secondly to avoid irrelevant ads. In most countries, around half of the ad blocking users turn on their ad blockers to avoid irrelevant ads, while this is the case for two-thirds among the Finns.

Context and environment matter

When discussing the importance of ad relevance, another aspect is the context and environment in which the ads are shown. When looking at this, we see that brand perception is increasingly affected by where brands are advertising.

In most countries, around one-third of the online population express that ads shown next to relevant content have a positive effect on their brand perception. At the same time, the majority of the online population in most countries expresses that ads shown in non-safe environments cause a negative perception of the brands. Compared to numbers from 2018, more people are both positively affected if ads are shown next to relevant content and negatively affected if ads are shown in non-safe environments.

Get further insights

In our study, you can learn more about the current state of the attitude towards advertising and use of ad blocking in the US, UK, Germany and Nordics. Enjoy!

The study is based on more than 14.000 individual survey respondents across seven countries; The US, the UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Download the full study and get further insights now: