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Are Adblockers the end of digital marketing?

The advertising industry must look for alternative business models. How new business models are leading advertising out of the crisis.
Tim Schumacher | 05.03.2021

There are some good reasons to use an adblocker. Many people simply find advertising annoying, they don't want to be interrupted while surfing, or they fear infecting their computer with malware through ads. Around 25 percent of German Internet users now surf the web with an adblocker.


Adblocking users are a very attractive group for advertisers. They are educated, young and earn well, around 60 percent are under 34 years old. 15 percent have an income of 90,000-120,000 US dollars. But what should be even more interesting for advertisers and brands is that 38 percent of adblocking users spend more than $250 online per month, and they are almost twice as likely to buy online after seeing an ad.



Few adblocking users reject all advertising


You might think this group is unreachable for advertisers, but that's not true. Only a small percentage of Adblock users reject all advertising and therefore do not see any ads at all; the remaining 83 percent are willing to see a few forms of advertising and thus support content creators who respect their usage habits.



But what can respectful and acceptable advertising look like?


Here's how to reach adblocking users in a sustainable way:


  1. accept users' right to self-determination.


  1. ads should be respectful and offer added value.


  1. transparency: ads must be clearly labeled.


  1. ads should not appear in the body text of a web page.


  1. ads should not take up more than 25 percent of the screen. practical terms, this means two simple rules for advertisers:


  1. use networks that are certified for Acceptable Ads, for example Bing, Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Ads, Outbrain/Ligatus, Criteo,, and many others - complete list at


  1. always make sure to provide non-animated ads in standard formats for each campaign. This is the only way ads can be served to ad blocker users in the first place.



38 percent of users say that intrusive advertising has a negative impact on their opinion of the advertised brand, as does the site that served the ad.[4] Publishers and advertisers harm themselves by forcing advertising on users.


The trick is to pick up the customer where he stands and play him the advertising that offers him added value and meets his needs.


This also means respecting the user's right to decide for himself what advertising he wants to see.


This basic principle is the first priority for all ad blockers that have joined the Acceptable Ads initiative. In addition to Adblock Plus (published by the German company eyeo, which I co-founded), these include AdBlock and Crystal; around 200 million people worldwide use Acceptable Ads. Of course, users decide for themselves whether they don't want to see ads at all or allow Acceptable Ads.



Independent body decides on criteria


The sole decision-maker on what ads are acceptable is the independent, non-profit organization Acceptable Ads Committee (AAC). The Acceptable Ads Committee has developed a catalog of criteria that defines exactly what requirements advertising must meet in order to still be acceptable. Ads that adhere to the Acceptable Ads guidelines can be whitelisted and displayed to users who want to continue to allow Acceptable Ads even with an adblocker.


The advertising industry needs to look for alternative business models


This also offers new monetization opportunities for advertisers, because an ad seen by an adblocking user is unlikely to compete with intrusive ads and thus, conversely, gets more attention.


In my view, adblockers have given users back a bit of freedom, because a completely new ecosystem of monetization models for content has developed in the meantime, and I am firmly convinced that the market will diversify much more in this area. Users can finally decide for themselves whether, for example, they want to watch a piece of content for free and therefore consume advertising or pay for an ad-free piece of content instead; this option did not exist before.


The user has cast a clear vote and is demanding alternatives. It's up to us to work together to develop new business models that are viable for content creators while respecting user rights.