Exploring the Selective Use of Ad Blockers and Testing Banner Appeals to Reduce Ad Blocking

Johanna Söllner, Florian Dost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ad blocker proliferation threatens the revenue streams of many websites and raises fears about the viability of digital advertising as a whole. Although industry initiatives have increasingly aimed to mitigate ad blocking, surprisingly little research addresses the problem. It remains largely unknown which factors drive ad blocking or help unblocking or “whitelisting” of select websites. This article presents an exploratory survey study of 1,634 ad blocker users and uncovers the main factors driving ad blocking and conditions for unblocking select websites. The conditions suggest changes to online advertising in line with current industry initiatives, as well as opportunities for direct appeals to ad blocker users. A field experiment with 294,331 users tests whether banner appeals can reduce ad blocking. The results show that these appeals reduce ad blocking among 1% of the ad blocker users, and among frequent visitors who encounter repeated banner appeals, this percentage increases to 2%. However, repeated banners also lead to fewer website visits of users not conforming to the appeal, which suggests a trade-off between reducing ad blocking among some users and further increasing avoidance behaviors among others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-312
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Advertising
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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