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Oct. 29, 2015, 3:28 p.m.
Reporting & Production

We used a Twitter poll to ask our followers if they use ad blockers — here’s what we learned

About half of all Nieman Lab poll respondents said they block ads, though the results are far from scientific.

Twitter last week released its new poll feature, and users — at least the ones who’ve gotten access — have been asking their followers all sorts of important questions.

Yesterday, we decided we wanted to try out a Nieman Lab poll, so we asked the big question of the day in medialand: whether our followers use an ad blocker. The poll was live for 24 hours; here’s what some of them had to say:

The responses were almost even: 52 percent said they did use an ad blocker while 48 percent said they didn’t. (And, for the record, Shan Wang was the closest in our staff predictions oft the results.)


Though the results are far from scientific — our pool of 918 respondents was self-selecting and limited to Twitter users who came upon @NiemanLab in their feed — but they offer up some interesting insights into both ad blocker usage and the limitations of the Twitter poll tool.

It’s hard to know how many people use ad blockers — not least because the technology that blocks ads also often blocks the analytics tools one might use to measure the behavior. A study released this summer by PageFair and Adobe said nearly 200 million people globally use ad blockers, an increase of 41 percent from the year before. Still, just a minority of Internet users are actually using ad blockers: 16 percent of U.S. Internet users block ads, according to the report. Those percentages are slightly higher in Europe though. In Germany, 25.3 percent of Internet users block ads and 20.3 percent of British Internet users are using ad blockers.

All that said, PageFair sells ad-blocker-blocking services to publishers, so they’re not a neutral party here. And their study was conducted before Apple launched ad blocking capabilities in the latest iteration of its iOS mobile operating system, so those figures are surely higher now.


Ad revenue supports many online publications, of course, which use that money to employ journalists. Those journalists then, in turn, make up a healthy slice of Nieman Lab’s audience — and presumably of the respondents to our Twitter poll. /giphy irony!

Twitter polls are anonymous, so we don’t know who responded to our question. They’re also limited by the fact that you can only ask questions with two answers — so forget about squeezing any nuance out of the data. Another downside: They currently only show up on and in the native Twitter apps, so if you’re using TweetDeck or a third-party Twitter app, you won’t see the poll.

Perhaps in part because of those factors, many users replied to our tweets with their answers instead of/in addition to answering the poll:

Despite the limitations of Twitter polls, they’re still a fun way to engage with your followers on Twitter and at least ask basic questions.

And, while we’re at it, we’ll leave you with one more poll to answer:

Photo by Matt Brown used under a Creative Commons license.

POSTED     Oct. 29, 2015, 3:28 p.m.
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