News consumers who use ad blockers primarily install them because they’re fed up with the volume and distracting nature of ads in general. However, as results from Reuters Institute’s 2016 “Digital News Report” [pdf] attest, privacy and site performance are also key considerations.
Among the US respondents (all of whom had consumed news in the prior month) who had installed an ad blocker, about 2 in 3 said that they did so due to the volume and distracting nature of the ads they encountered. However, a majority (55%) also said they dislike ads that follow them around from one site to another, suggesting that privacy concerns are also critical. Additionally, half said they installed the technology to improve the speed at which pages load. This was a bigger reason for ad blocking users in the US than for those in 9 other selected countries. (Although new research from Catchpoint Systems suggests that ad blockers could actually slow load times on some pages.)
Overall, 24% of news consumers surveyed in the US reported having installed ad blockers, though that figure was considerably higher among 18-24-year-olds (44%). The US was in the middle of the spectrum of ad blocking prevalence, which generally ranged from 20% on the lower end to 38% on the higher end, save for a couple of outliers in Korea (12%) and Japan (10%).
Meanwhile, advertising presents a barrier to news video consumption, per the report. Only 24% of respondents (across all countries) who had looked at news online in the prior week reported having consumed online news video, which the analysts deem “surprisingly weak growth given the explosive growth and prominence on the supply side.” Part of the problem appears to be pre-rolls: among those who don’t usually watch news video online, more than one-third (35%) said it was because pre-roll ads tend to put them off. That was the second-leading reason, only behind finding reading quicker and more convenient (41%).
The US had the largest proportion of news video consumers, at 33%.
In other compelling highlights from the report, which was carried out among more than 50,000 news consumers across 26 countries:
- While TV and online are the most common sources of news, social media (46%) has grown significantly in recent years;
- Across all countries, 18-24-year-olds are more likely to get their news from social media (28%) than from TV (24%);
- YouTube is a bigger source of news than Twitter, though Facebook is easily the top social platform for news consumption;
- In the US, UK and Germany, social networks are most commonly used because they offer alerts and breaking news (60%) and because they offer a simple way to access a variety of news sources (50%);
- Only around half of respondents in the US notice the news brand that has supplied the content when using social media (49%) or news aggregators (52%);
- While branded entry is more common than social entry for online news, smartphone users are more likely than tablet and computer users to come across news stories via social entry;
- Within the US, the internet (39%) outweighs TV (36%) as the first way that respondents typically come across the news in the morning;
- Only 41% of respondents in the US say that the labeling of sponsored and branded content on news websites is simple and clear;
- Fewer than 1 in 10 (9%) in the US have paid for online news in the past year; and
- Just 1 in 3 in the US agree that “you can trust most news most of the time,” a lower level of trust than most other countries.