The Equity of Adblockers: A Commercial and Legal Analysis of Why Users Block Ads and What Publishers Can Do About It

Rachel Kador

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Rates of adblocking on the browser level have grown rapidly in the last decade, cutting into publishers’ revenue and casting doubt about the future of free content online. This study reviews two of the most controversial aspects of adblocking, whitelisting and circumvention techniques, from both a commercial and legal perspective. Equity theory provides a theoretical framework to analyze the reasons why users block ads and evaluate alternate methods for publishers to regain their lost revenue. Thirteen different studies on the demographics and motivations of adblock users are reviewed, along with two qualitative interviews from representative publishers. This research also includes a comparative legal analysis which describes and interprets the respective laws of the EU and the US that may have bearing within adblocker disputes. The results of this analysis show that while publishers may have legal options, the best course of action may be to embrace new models of advertising and revenue generation, several of which are presented and evaluated.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and E-business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2017
Number of pages84
SupervisorsAndrej Savin & Mari-Klara Stein