Until social media platforms decide to offer paid ad-free experiences, another way to cut down on internet ads is by using an ad blocker. Many of these are free to use, and they come in the form of a browser extension or mobile app which prevents ads from displaying while you browse. We found that the most popular option was AdBlock or AdBlock Plus, and the least popular was a tie between Stands Fair and Ghostery.
But who actually uses ad blockers? The likelihood of use decreased with age. Almost 36% of baby boomers used zero ad blockers, followed by 30.3% of Gen Xers, 22.5% of millennials, and 13.9% of Gen Zers. Those who did use them primarily did so on a desktop or laptop computer – 85% – compared to only 43.7% who used an ad blocker on their mobile device.
Data Security vs. Targeted Ads
While most people understand the role that advertising plays in keeping social media free to use, some value an ad-free experience enough to pay up to $14 a month to get it. Still, internet ads don’t seem to bother most of the users we surveyed. But by the time their personal data is being used by advertisers, it could also be in the hands of other less obvious – and possibly, more nefarious – third parties. If they understood this connection, perhaps they would be more likely to take steps to protect their information. If you want to learn more about data privacy and how to keep your information secure, check out the knowledge base at Privacy HQ.
This study uses data from a survey of 1,007 people located in the U.S. Survey respondents were gathered through a bespoke online survey platform where they were presented with a series of questions, including attention-check and disqualification questions. 56.5% of respondents identified as men, while 43.5% identified as women. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 81 with an average age of 37. 31.2% of respondents were millennials, 25.7% were Gen Xers, 20.5% were baby boomers, and 22.6% were Gen Zers. 63.9% of respondents were Android users, 34.7% owned Apple phones, while 1.4% used phones running on a different operating system. Participants incorrectly answering any attention-check question had their answers disqualified. This study has a 3% margin of error on a 95% confidence interval.
Please note that survey responses are self-reported and are subject to issues, such as exaggeration, recency bias, and telescoping.
Fair Use Statement
We share this study’s findings as freely as social media users share their personal data. But unlike them, we ask for credit! Feel free to use any of the information here for noncommercial purposes, but please link back to this page whenever you share it.