How Does the Adoption of Ad Blockers Affect News Consumption?

Posted: 8 Jun 2020 Last revised: 14 Dec 2021

See all articles by Shunyao Yan

Shunyao Yan

Goethe University Frankfurt

Klaus M. Miller

HEC Paris

Bernd Skiera

Goethe University Frankfurt

Date Written: July 20, 2021


Ad blockers allow users to browse websites without viewing ads. Online news providers that rely on advertising revenue tend to perceive users’ adoption of ad blockers purely as a threat to revenue. Yet, this perception ignores the possibility that avoiding ads—which users presumably dislike—may affect users’ online news consumption behavior in positive ways. Using 3.1 million anonymized visits from 79,856 registered users on a news website, we find that adopting an ad blocker has a robust positive effect on the quantity and variety of articles users consume (21.5% - 43.3% more articles and 13.4% - 29.1% more content categories). An increase in repeat user visits of the news website, rather than the number of page impressions per visit, drives the news consumption. These visits tend to start with direct navigation to the news website, indicating user loyalty. The increase in news consumption is more substantial for users who have less prior experience with the website. We discuss how news publishers could benefit from these findings, including exploring revenue models that consider users’ desire to avoid ads.

Keywords: online advertising, news consumption, ad blocking, monetization of content, difference-in-differences

JEL Classification: M31,M37, D83, L10

Suggested Citation

Yan, Shunyao and Miller, Klaus and Skiera, Bernd, How Does the Adoption of Ad Blockers Affect News Consumption? (July 20, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Shunyao Yan (Contact Author)

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Grüneburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
+491745316923 (Phone)

Klaus Miller

HEC Paris ( email )


Bernd Skiera

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 4
Frankfurt, 60323
+49 69 798 34640 (Phone)
+49 69 798 35001 (Fax)


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