Ad BlockingIndustry News & Views

Permission: The Missing Ingredient in Reaching Ad Block Users

By March 3, 2020 No Comments
A user submitting a happy review of her experience

In previous posts, I introduced the concept of the Permission-based Economy, or the idea that asking ad block audiences for permission to show specific advertising content has a powerful impact in changing consumer behavior across the digital advertising landscape. When done correctly, the Permission-based Economy produces unprecedented results for publishers and advertisers

In 2019, we demonstrated that asking ad block users (meaning those using any ad blocking software) for permission, then delivering them a seamless and relevant browsing experience, results in greater success than with non-ad block users.  

These successes with ad block users include:

  • Users opting in to advertising at rates of up to 50%
  • Improving campaign CTRs at a rate 3 to 5 times higher than non-ad block users 
  • A 153% increase in conversions

Those results do seem counterintuitive at first blush. The question we continually hear is, how can ad block user results exceed those of non-ad block users?

Tuning in to generational perspectives

A large swath of ad block users today are Millennials and Gen Zs, perhaps the most coveted of all audiences.  Many of them were born in and grew up in an internet-based, social media world. Some have limited exposure to traditional advertising and others, none. 

Our data show that those users are genuinely keen to support websites they enjoy, rely on, have loyalty to, and who show respect for them. When those users receive a respectful message asking for their permission and explaining why it’s needed, a large percentage of them will say yes. They consent because they are receiving the respect, choice and control they want, usually for the first time in their digital ad experience.  

It isn’t that those users want to block ads completely. Rather, they want relevant and non-intrusive ads. Up until now, they have not had a way to make this choice.

They also do not want to be tracked and targeted, which is why most ad block users will not “whitelist” sites. Whitelisting goes against what they want and need. When you ask an ad block user to “whitelist” a site, you are asking them to go against the reasons they use an ad blocker for in the first place. Forcing ads on ad block users is even worse, yet this is exactly what some vendors do, including the most widely-used ad blocker in the world. 

We started Adtoniq to recover a portion of the mass of audiences lost to ad blockers. We hypothesized that showing context-relevant ads to ad block users by permission would fill that business gap. The metrics now prove us right. However, we were surprised by what is now our key insight: Once an ad block user has given permission, they engage and convert at a significantly higher rate than their non-ad block counterparts

Our analysis of this phenomenon comes down to three important things. One, our messaging reminds the user that websites rely on advertising to fund their businesses. Two, many users who block ads have become accustomed to an ad-free experience, and so do not suffer from “banner blindness.” Therefore, they pay more attention to the ads they do see. 

Three, the ads they now see are contextually relevant to the site or content they are reading. This is because Adtoniq ads are targeted based on site or page content, not user data. In fact, by allowing them to keep their ad blocker on, the user’s data privacy and security is protected throughout their browsing journey. As a result, ad block users spend considerably more time on sites, accounting for the disproportionately high volume of impressions derived from ad block audiences as compared with their non-ad block counterparts.


Having given their permission to view ads, the next question is why ad block users engage with ads at such a significantly higher rate. Much has been written about people accidentally clicking on ads. One study estimated that about 10 percent of ad clicks were accidental, while others have put the figure as high as 60 percent.

However, our research shows that this is largely not the case with ad block users. Ad block users are more deliberate. They spend more time actually looking at ads that are of interest, relevant, and well presented. As a result, ad block users have proven to be much more inclined to click.


Pay-per-click advertising is central to most advertisers’ digital campaign strategies. As mentioned earlier, accidental clicking can undermine advertiser objectives as can fraudulent ad clicks that have been estimated to account for about 1 in 5 clicks.  

But when it comes to ad block users, advertisers know that their clicks are deliberate, and come from humans, not bots, completely eliminating any chance of fraud. 

Working with our advertising partners, we have established that when ad block users reach a decision point, they convert at much higher rates than non-ad block users. Our research shows that once they give their permission to view ads for a particular product or service, those users more frequently follow through to procure those products or services. We have found again that this positive outcome follows logically from a specific and deliberate series of decisions made by ad block users along the way.


Data show that across every campaign metric, ad block users significantly outperform their non-ad blocked counterparts. From permission to conversion, ad block audiences are proving to be far more valuable to advertisers and publishers. 

The key to reaching this untapped market is permission: Giving ad block users the power to choose to see ads opens up brand new audiences, and unlocks an unprecedented level of market value.

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