Working Papers

How Does the Adoption of Ad Blockers Affect News Consumption? (with Klaus M. Miller & Bernd Skiera)

  • R&R, Journal of Marketing Research

Abstract: 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 hindrance. Yet, this perception ignores the possibility that avoidance of ads—which users dislike—may affect users’ consumption behavior in positive ways. Indeed, remarkably little is known about how ad blockers impact news consumption. Using 3.1 million anonymized visits from 79,856 users on a news website, we find that the adoption of an ad blocker has a robust positive effect on the quantity and variety of articles that users consume (15.2%-32.0% more articles and 10.7%-20.7% more content categories post-adoption). The increase in news consumption is especially strong for light users, and it is primarily driven by an increase in the number of repeat visits of a user to the news website, rather than by the number of page impressions per visit. These visits tend to start with a direct navigation to the news website, an indication of user loyalty. We discuss how news publishers could benefit from these findings, including exploration of revenue models that leverage users’ desire to avoid ads and their enhanced engagement when they do so.

Paywall and Content Polarization

  • Presented at Statistical Challenges in Electronic Commerce Research (SCECR) 2020, Workshop on Information System and Economics (WISE) 2020

Abstract: This paper studies how financing content by subscription through a paywall impacts the content polarization of the news media. Analyzing news articles from the 4 largest US news media for 3 years based on a novel polarization index trained from the US congress speech, this paper shows that the New York Times polarized itself on the political dimension by 20% more after adopting a paywall (i.e., NYT leaning to the political left by 20% more). As the mechanism, this paper finds that the newsroom gets more polarized after the paywall adoption: journalists who wrote more left-leaning news articles are more likely to get new byline assignment and are quicker to get promotion after paywall. I discuss the policy implication of these findings for the media market.