Why Software Developers Use Adblockers

In May 2013, six publishers of big German online quality news sites started a campaign asking their visitors to turn off their adblockers to “ensure the continuance of a multifaceted journalistic reporting in high quality”. The results? Huge discussions, an increase of adblocker downloads and a reactivation of the paid content debate. mgm technology partners took up the issue to ask its staff: Developers, do you use an adblocker? Here’s what they said.

People working in the tech industry are the modern web avant-garde. They are not only using the internet every day, they are making it. Even though they are a very special group of prosumers (i.e. producers and consumers at the same time) their opinion can be seen as something like the crystal ball of future web development. And they have a clear message to the web advertising world:

“I would turn off my adblocker if hell freezes over.”

In-house mgm tp survey with the answers of 130 IT experts (click to enlarge).

3 of 4 developers are already using adblockers. They are simply annoyed of ads for two main reasons:

  • Most of the ads are too disruptive and affect a proper usability and user experience.
  • Developers are very web liberal and not willing to bear the compulsion of the classy media industry and their ads any longer. They simply want to use the web self-determined.

That’s a comprehensible argumentation, isn’t it? As a result of their professional origin developers are very aware of their adblock use: Nearly 90% of the developers using adblockers know what kind of adblocker they are using. But …

… society needs high quality journalism!

Don’t we? So what options do we have? A pay wall is a wall. Would people start to pay for content instead of seeing some ads? And would journalism be able to be financed this way? Does the majority of users actually realize that ads pay their need of information?

Summary of data

  • 16 million people are using the leading adblocker every day.*
  • One in four visitors on SPON uses an adblocker.**
  • Half of all developers use an adblocker in their jobs.
  • Almost 3 of 4 developers use an adblocker on their private devices.
  • 88% of all adblock-using developers know what kind of blocker they are using:
  • Most of them (30%) have installed an adblocker with a predefined whitelist.
  • 28% are using an adblocker that blocks every ad.
  • One in five uses an adblocker with a self-configured whitelist.
  • 11% are using something else to block ads.

What’s your opinion? Tell us about your thoughts in the comments!


5 Responses to “Why Software Developers Use Adblockers”

  1. Kevin Peck says:

    I am a developer and I use an ad blocker and I don’t use a white list, I block everything.

    First I have an eye problem, my left eye will follow motion while my right eye attempts to read. I have a hard time reading with others in the room doing activities. Ads tend to have motion in them. I can’t read the information on the web site I need with crap jumping around.

    Second I am not an impulse buyer. Even if the ad was there and not moving it would make no difference to me. I am not buying the product. Yes, you got in front of an extra set of eyes but without a sale does that matter?

    I hit tech sites to get information and answers not to get side tracking into buying something. I am not the target audience for the ads. I am not screwing anyone over by not seeing them. In fact not seeing them is probably a good thing as ads tend to turn me off from products if I get bombarded with them. You have a better chance of losing me as a customer than gaining me as a customer if you annoy me constantly during the day.

    • Bennet Polenz says:

      Hi Kevin,
      thanks a lot for your comment. Your argumentation is absolutely comprehensible. I guess everyone feels at least a little bit distracted by moving ads.

      Is there any chance that ads could gain your acceptance?
      What (ad) content would you like to see?


  2. Kevin Peck says:


    I tried to think of something that would make me switch back to viewing ads and really could not come up with anything.

    Marketing targets those with short attention spans so if I ask for no motion they will never agree to it. How could I tell an ad from anything else they will say? We have to rotate ads so there has to be motion even if it is just swapping content.

    It is a bit easier on a mobile device. You place the add at the bottom or top of screen and it stays. Not as easy to do on a desktop browser and I hate the stupid tool bars and other controls that attempt to scroll with you. They are always out of sync. I do not want to be your friend on facebook or google+ you. At least allow me to close the stupid thing. Your site is not doing this but I see others that do.

    Still seems a battle just to show me something I will ignore. I don’t impulse shop. At the very best you could hit me with an ad that solves my current programming need for a tool. Chances are really slim though as I am usually looking for a solution to a very specific programming question and not to buy something to replace my job.

    Ads try too hard. I rarely watch TV live, pretty much DVR everything. With kids I can’t watch things until they are in bed and by then I am tired too so I want to zip through a show. I am not in the market for a Ford truck so no matter how many ads you show me for one I am not going to buy it. It has gotten to the point that I don’t trust products that are over advertised. I figure there is a catch or it is a POS if they have to push that hard. Direct Buy comes to mind. Flooded with those ads, they get the suckers, disappear, change name, reappear.

    I find it entertaining to look up what the story is behind the As Seen on TV stuff but past that I pay no mind to them.

    Cross me off as a target demographic and try to find someone that ads work on.

  3. Thanks Martin, As a simple user, I can say that ads are really a problem when visiting a website. And sometimes ads are very rubbish. I usually go on a social bookmarking website, there always I receive a pop up promoting casino industry.

    • Bennet Polenz says:

      Hi Julie,
      thanks for your comment. I totally agree. Pop ups and overlays are really annoying.

      Would you tolerate non-moving, unobtrusive ads on a website?