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Why do internet consumers block ads? New evidence from consumer opinion mining and sentiment analysis

Ana Alina Tudoran (Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus Universitet, Aarhus, Denmark)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 3 December 2018

Issue publication date: 7 January 2019




The number of internet consumers who adopt ad-blocking is increasing rapidly all over the world. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate this phenomenon by: assembling the existing considerations and key theoretical aspects of the determinants of online ad-blocking; and by exploring the consumers’ beliefs and sentiments toward online ads and expected outcomes of ad-blocking behavior.


Data consist of 4,093 consumers’ opinions in response to the news items about ad-blocking, published by a leading news and technology website in the period 2010–2016. The unstructured data are analyzed using probabilistic topic modeling and sentiment analysis.


Five main topics are identified, unveiling the hidden structure of consumers’ beliefs. A sentiment analysis profiling the clustered opinions reveals that the opinions that are focused on the behavioral characteristics of ads express the strongest negative sentiment, while the opinions centered on the possibility to subscribe to an ad-free fee-financed website are characterized on average by a positive sentiment.

Practical implications

The findings provide useful insights for practitioners to create/adopt more acceptable ads that translate into less ad-blocking and improved internet surfing experience. It brings insights on the question of whether ad-free subscription websites have or do not have the potential to become a viable business opportunity.


The research: improves the current understanding of the determinants of ad-blocking by introducing a conceptual framework and testing it empirically; makes use of consumer-generated data on the internet; and implements novel techniques from the data mining literature.



The author thanks the editor, three anonymous reviewers, Juan Lago (Lead Supply A/S), and Karin Vinding and Solveig Nygaard Sørensen (Aarhus University) for their helpful comments on a previous version of this manuscript.


Tudoran, A.A. (2019), "Why do internet consumers block ads? New evidence from consumer opinion mining and sentiment analysis", Internet Research, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 144-166.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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