The Economics of Ad Blocking Across the Web



Ad blocking is a growing practice across the internet — more than 750 million devices block ads worldwide. Publishers have adapted to these tools by adjusting ad and content quality, negotiating with ad blocking groups to whitelist less intrusive ads, and directly employing workarounds to ad blocking technology. We argue the economic motivations for each of these responses varies according to publishers’ monetization strategies and user bases. Using a novel dataset of ads from thousands of websites over a seven-year period, we empirically study the market for ad blocking. We find substantial heterogeneity in advertising behavior across publisher types. We also document changes in advertising practices as ad blocking behavior increases across the internet.

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