Turning Adblockers Into Unblockers - An Explorative Study Into the Mind of Adblockers and Whitelisting

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för marknadsföring och strategi

Abstract: Digital advertising spending has been rapidly rising over the past years. As the level of advertising on the Internet becomes increasingly excessive, more people are looking for ways to avoid it. The most popular one is to install an adblocker that effectively removes most advertising on the Internet. While adblock improves the online experience of its users, it poses a threat to websites that are dependent on advertising revenue. Even though research about online advertising avoidance exists, this does not necessarily apply to the use of adblock. The main purpose of this thesis is to explore the use of adblock, more specifically the concept of whitelisting and its relation to previous research. Whitelisting means pausing the adblock-function for a certain website, enabling it to show advertising. This is a concept that has not been researched yet and this study sets a first step in exploring it. Five qualitative interviews with adblock-users were conducted to create an initial understanding of the matter. This was followed by a web-based survey of 978 Swedish adblock-users. Through an experimental design, it is shown that by exposing adblock-users to a message, asking them to whitelist, website owners can increase adblockers' likeliness to whitelist. The quantitative study further investigated which specific factors influence the decision to whitelist. The results suggest that the likeliness to whitelist is influenced by the perceived goal impediment, perceived ad clutter, attitude towards website, perceived credibility of the website, perceived quality of editorial content, attitude towards online advertising and advertising in general. Furthermore the results reveal that the majority of adblock-users has whitelisted before and over 75% would consider whitelisting again. This is an encouraging result and should motivate website-owners to actively tackle this problem.

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