Research explores brand safety and adblock

Matthew Cortland

Study reveals how adblock users react to unblockable ads

June 12, 2017

12 June 2017 (New York) – New research presented by the Advertising Research Foundation at the ARF 2017 Audience Measurement Conference reveals how adblock users react to advertised brands when shown unblockable ads. This brand safety by the ARF, ISBA (the UK advertisers’ body), and PageFair, comes at a time when Facebook and others now show tamper-proof ads that adblock tools cannot block.

More than 2,300 study participants were shown ads on several websites. The ads shown conform to the Coalition For Better Ads standard. Surprisingly, though adblock users were likely to report being bothered by seeing ads, they actually blamed brands shown in the ads less than regular users did. Even more surprisingly, adblock users also had a slightly more positive toward attitude toward a brand shown in an ad than regular users.

“The study should provide some confidence for those advertisers who wish to take a firmer stance against ad-blocking that, so long as they abide by CBA standards, they can engage respectfully with these customers without fear of brand damage,” said Mark Finney, Director of Media & Advertising at ISBA – the UK advertisers’ representative body.

Facebook has attributed 20% of additional y-o-y revenue growth to its decision to use unblockable ads in August 2016. Facebook will make approximately three quarters of a billion dollars in additional revenue as a result.

“We’ve known the ‘what’ of ad-blocking for a while, and now we’re building our body of knowledge on the ‘why’ and ‘what now’ of the topic”, said Chris Bacon, Executive Vice President for Global Research, Quality & Innovation at the Advertising Research Foundation. “This study adds to our insight, and helps us figure out how to serve the consumer better.”

The study tested reactions to IAB “LEAN” display format ads. This LEAN format adheres to the Coalition For Better Ads “initial standard”, and addresses adblock users’ legitimate grievances concerning UX, bandwidth, and security.

“These findings are good news for marketers and for publishers. Global adblock usage has climbed past 615 million devices worldwide”, said Sean Blanchfield, CEO of PageFair. “Unblocking this audience with tamper-proof ads builds a new, uncluttered environment for brand safe marketing”.

The full report, “Brand Safety and the Unblocked Web is available here.