Where the revolution started!

Consumer Use Of Ad-Blocking Technology Doubles

Memo to marketers: Consumers still hate you, and they’ve taken to blocking your ads.

In the past two years, the number of consumers using pop-up blockers and spam filters has more than doubled, according to a new study, “Consumers Love to Hate Advertising,” from Forrester Research. More than half of all American households now report using these ad-blocking technologies to block unwanted pitches.

Broadband households have become even harder to reach: Some 81% of those with high-speed Internet access employ pop-up blockers and spam filters.

Consumer attitudes toward marketers have actually improved somewhat, according to the report. But it’s not clear whether this slight thaw in sentiment is the result of successful ad blocking.

The report suggests that marketers, media agencies, and publishers should see the stabilization of dislike as a sign of hope. At the same time, it warns that companies “cannot afford to ignore consumer distaste for advertising.”

And that distaste is strong. “Only 13% of consumers admit that they buy products because of their ads, and a paltry 6% believe that companies generally tell the truth in ads,” the report states.

The most common ad-blocking system is operated by the government-run National Do Not Call Registry, which now protects over 107 million U.S. consumers from intrusive telemarketing.

Forrester also notes that ad avoidance is becoming more common on television. Today, 15% of consumers acknowledge using their digital video recorders to skip ads, more than three times as many as in 2004. The research firm predicts this behavior will spread, based on projections that over half of all U.S. households will have DVRs by 2010.

Consumer ire, the report says, is driven by three factors: an excess of ads, the disruptive nature of ads, and the irrelevance of ads.

What’s a marketer to do, beyond maintaining an unlisted number and pretending to work in a less despised profession such as a cigarette company executive? Forrester recommends facilitating user experiences instead of disrupting them; focusing on metrics that measure whether a desired action occurred rather than whether a message was seen or heard; and shifting budgets from media to infrastructure to facilitate marketing across mediums from a central store of consumer data.

  1. RBG says:

    I think SPAM – especially annoying stock promotions – has now gone way beyond annoying. My main defense is to have most all email go to an address, that I can regularly change, before it is forwarded to my real email address (that first goes through an alias).

    The lastest tactic by spammers is to put their message into graphic form so none of the actual words can be detected.


  2. ECA says:

    with ALL the popup, spam, and adverts, IF you were not running protections, I would think Even Highspeed access would be overwhelmed…
    But even at that, does not compare with all the CRAP that they are trying to PUT on your system to track, add popup, trace you, and this isnt coounting the other bots, virus, and so forth that is being incorporated INTO the adverts.
    Many of these companies hire Oddballs to do these, and Many sites do NOT scan the adverts being placed on their sites, they just run a random selection from a site.

    Point of fact…
    I did a fresh install of win2000, with IE4. i had to update the system, and needed access to the net. the person gave me their Name and Password, and the first site to popup was MSN..
    5 virus, 17 bots later…And useing Dialup… I couldnt go anywhere.
    I had to get AV, and antibot software onto the system before I could do anything, and Even thay didnt catch everything until I had a chance to update them OFF the net.

    I dont think MSN did this, but with all the Adverts on the front page. Iv made it my 1st responce to the net on a NEW install, to change the Start page to Google.

  3. Tom 2 says:

    Boo Hoo, we have television, billboards, radio announcments, fly by plane advertising, subminal messages, so what they cant advertise crap we dont need on the internet. Give me a break.

  4. Mark says:

    Fortunately, it seems the Vista Beta I’m running has a pretty agressive SPAM filter, with Windows Mail (Outlook Express Vista version). I’d say its cut back on spam by 98%. For now anyway. I’m pretty happy with it.

  5. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    Are marketers feeling bad?


  6. Stan says:

    POP Ups in browsers are horrible – it’s not like a Television ad. Usually they launch a new IE Window that eats resources and memory. And depending on the site it’s usually more than one. I use a security suite to block Pop-ups and back that up with Firefox ad-blocker. Pop Ups are now rare. So rare that sometimes I have to enable pop-ups sometimes to get a site to work. Another thing that I like but don’t currently use is Ad-Muncher which blocks ads in web pages. That seems a bit unethical.

    I also have TIVO DVR. I really like the skipping commercials function. However – I don’t skip commercials all the time. If I’m working and I have the TV in the background – they play and I might hear something I’d like to see. If I am skipping commercials – I’ll stop every time and watch the “So Easy – even a caveman could do it” commercials from Geico. Seen them 50 times – still funny every time. And on Superbowl Sunday – I’ll probably use the DVR to review the commercials.

    As far as music – I have satellite radio – commercial free. FM radio in Atlanta has way way too many commercials. I’ve even cut out downloading music. I mainly use Itunes to download podcasts like Twit and Cranky geeks to play on the road.

    Bottom line – it’s the amount of adverts and the poor quality that is the problem –
    Take for instance Security Now! podcast with Leo – He has a 45 minute show – with a couple of Astaro and Dell adverts. I do not fast forward through the commercials – in fact I usually end up visiting the advertiser’s site. WIth TV or Radio I’m changing channels.

  7. ECA says:

    Its not the adverts,
    Its the number of adverts, redirects, and the SOB that puts bots and virus into them.
    I will bet you havent ben to a page that Popped up 16+ Other pages.
    I will bet you have protection…
    Turn it off for 1 day, avoid the adult sites…Turn off the AV, the Antibot, and the spam filters…
    And the next day, check your system. IF you have a system left to run. If it will even get to the net, IF it will even start for you.
    the worst system i had to clean had 14 virus and 517 BOTS… See if you can beat that.
    After I removed them all, the system CRASHED and wouldnt restart.

  8. sdf says:

    Maybe it’s just my web browser (not changing it) but pcmagdotcom has one of the most annoying popups out there. I detest going to that site and avoid it like the plague.

  9. RM says:

    Geez, ECA, I’d have just insisted on a reinstall of the OS for that person with the viruses and bots, and insisted that they install antivirus, spam filters and ad/spyware protection before I’d agree to support their system.

    As for ads, it does suck being bombarded by this crap everywhere you look, literally. I have the AV, spam and ad/spyware protection, of course. I also have Firefox plugins that block 80% or more of ads. But in general, offline, I just change the channel, fast forward, switch radio stations, whatever… so I don’t have to deal with it.

    This is a never-ending battle. For every technology used to force ads upon consumers, someone will develop an avoidance technology. And someone will develop an anti-avoidance technology, and someone will develop an anti-anti-avoidance technology. Both sides will continue to make more and more money doing their part at the expense and headaches of the consumer.

  10. Tom says:

    Earthlink has been using both Brightmail and challenge-response for free Spam control for many years now. I have cable modem service through them (on Time Warner’s cable) and can’t remember the last time I saw a piece of Spam…


  11. jbellies says:

    Ads are legal but can be annoying.
    Spam, virii, hijacking, bots are illegal in many places, and those responsible for them should be punished.
    There is a fundamental difference.

    Two aids for the system re-installer: a USB memory stick (with all the anti-whatever software and a good browser) and a router. Router plugs into the net, you plug into the router. Much safer.

  12. bill says:

    It’s like getting a magazine with all those bingo ads and cardboard inserts… into the trash with all of it.!, along with 1/2 of our local paper…
    at least I recycle.
    to bad I can’t recycle some bandwidth…

  13. ChrisMac says:

    Unless your an upstart company.. Advertising is pointless..

    Word of mouth rules

    I use advertising to know what not to buy..

    If i passively drive by a billboard with a hot chick displayed.. I don’t pull over and jerk off.. no matter what she’s sellin

    If you paste porn pages all across my desktop.. well..
    you must think i’m some kinda idiot.. and i don’t appreciate that..
    no sale!

  14. Mike Voice says:

    6 Another thing that I like but don’t currently use is Ad-Muncher which blocks ads in web pages. That seems a bit unethical.

    Unethical? I haven’t clicked on an ad, on any site, in years… if I am in the market for something, I search for it.

    I also don’t feel bad about fast-forwarding past TV commercials, even though I am apparently breaking the “social contract” of commercial-sponsored TV programing…

    This reminds me of the Wired story about attempts to protect the business model of selling prepaid phones at a loss:

    TracFone pointed to a unique problem faced by prepaid providers… The prepaid business model is based on selling handsets at a loss through major retailers. …Since there are no contracts or termination fees, people can now …, buy a $60 phone for $20, unlock it, use it on the service of their choice, and the vendor has lost $40 in a single sale.

    …there are organized businesses that will unlock the phones and resell them. Arbitragers put a call out on the internet for handsets, promising a few dollars’ profit for each one purchased and delivered to their distribution point.

    Remember the Michigan “Terrorists” buying phones in bulk??

    As a result, TracFone is losing millions of dollars, as it fails to reap the intended economic benefit of its subsidy.

    And – finally – the article’s idea that I believe relates to web ads:
    New and innovative business models are great. But the burden of making them economically feasible should fall on the company that stands to profit, not on the broad base of consumers that will not.

  15. Mike Caddick says:

    SInce switching to firefox and using a combination of Adblock (and FIlterset G) plus Flashblock, I virtually NEVER see any advertisements.

    I also use the hosts file available at http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm which prevents thousands of dodgy sites and their intrusive advertising ever touching my computer at all!

  16. Steve S says:

    And then there are people like this ABC Advertising executive that believe you should not have the right to fast forward through commercials on your DVR.


    I consider the DVR fast forward button to be one of the greatest leisure inventions of the past 100 years… I don’t get out much… Sigh…


  17. tallwookie says:

    Heres how I roll:

    av – avast! 4.7 Pro (this prog is leet)

    firewall – hardware, in the router, software firewalls are a waste of system resources.

    spam – gmail + mozilla thunderbird + common sense

    I havent had a single spam issue in over 6 months

  18. Mark says:

    3 things. Keep Windows update current. Use Windows defender for spyware (free), use AVG Antivirus (free). If you do those three things, no pop ups, no viruses, no hijacking. Its a beautiful thing. Forget about Ad Aware, they wont remove, just detect. Email Spam is something else, thats dependant on your email client software.

    Also most people who bring their system to me who have viruses/spyware (is there a difference anymore?) are using either Norton Antivirus/ Security (what a joke that crap is), or McAfee. I dont know why AVG Free works better as does Trend Micro.

    Just an opinion from full time tecnician.

  19. joshua says:

    My primary has been AVG free for 5 years, and I have never had a virus. It updates daily, and gets virus killers to me almost as fast as the virus is spread.

    I stopped using Norton/Symantec 6 months after I got AVG. I have a simple firewall from XP that always catches the crap and trojans. I use AT&T’s adware detection and never have a problem with them.

    I am the first to admit that I know diddly about all this stuff, but I know what works and is simple to use.

  20. mxpwr03 says:

    “I’m telling you, I get NO spam!” Arguably the greatest moment in Twit. When are those bumper stickers coming out? It’d be another venue to plug the site.

  21. Gyro Gearloose says:

    The SPAM and pop-ups really harm the casual computer user or business user who has little or no computer savvy.

    I worked on a machine for a friend who used the computer primarily for business, payroll and receivables. But the computer was also used to surf the Internet. When I got the machine to my shop, I was dumfounded.

    Between the anti-virus scans and ad-remover scans, over 1000 items were removed from the machine. Despite all that, I was never able to completely restore the computer to normal. Any use of IE caused a flood of pop-ups, despite the fact that Ad-Aware and Spybot both said the machine was clean. I installed FireFox so they could continue to use the computer. Eventually they brought it back and I had to reformat the computer.

    This friend lost the use of his business computer on two occasions while I had it in my shop. I spent a considerable amount of time cleaning and then restoring the computer to normal. I did the work for free, but think of how many times this happens, and how much money is spent because of spam and pop-ups.

    When you get bombarded with annoying ads on TV or radio you can change the channel and no harm is done. Not the case with computer adware, spyware, viruses, etc.

    This friend was unaware of the dangers of casual web surfing and did not understand the need for anti-virus. But isn’t this pretty much the norm for the average computer user? He and his staff are smarter now, but I know that machine will be back in my shop some day for another housecleaning!


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