People in these countries hate web ads the most (infographic)

How do people really feel about online advertising? Are they pleasantly surprised when a discount code arrives by email? Or are they more likely to feel creeped out when the thing they were Googling a few minutes ago suddenly pops up on their Facebook feed?

The answers depend on who you ask and, more importantly, where they live. Surfshark looked at data from Google and other authoritative sources to see what countries have the most internet users searching for ad-blocking software. Here's what they found out.

If you want to annoy the French, just bombard them with unsolicited ads while they're browsing the web. France has the least tolerance for online advertising, with 579 searches for ad-blocking software per 100,000 internet users. But where does this national distaste for advertising come from? Caroline Marti, Professor of Communication at Sorbonne University, explains, "French intellectuals have associated advertising with something destructive to culture. There was a criticism that advertising was anti-democratic, and a strong idea that public space belongs to everyone, [not the corporations.]" Martine Cosson, a leading figure in a French anti-advertising pressure group, goes even further in her criticism: "How can you feel happy if you're constantly being reminded of what you don't have? Advertising breaks your spirit and confuses you about what you really need."

And it seems as if some of that counter-cultural spirit has spread through much of Europe. 9 out of the 10 countries with the highest proportion of ad blocker searchers are all in Europe. Resentment towards online advertising is strongest in the Scandinavian countries, including Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Some theorists attribute this to the Nordic social democratic model, where robust welfare state policies reign in some of the more cutthroat aspects of a free market economy. Economists call it "cuddly capitalism." Moreover, the Scandinavians are well-known for their modest and egalitarian outlook. The Swedes and Norwegians even have a name for it: Jantelov, or "The Law of Jante."

The Law of Jante values collective interests and discourages boastful and jealous behavior. And it may explain why Scandinavians are turned off by the aspirational elements of some advertising techniques. Under the "Law of Jante," a Lamborghini isn't a status symbol to be converted. Instead, it's a very expensive way of telling your neighbors that you're a "douchebag" who thinks they're better than everyone else.

But attitudes are changing, especially among a new generation of up-and-coming entrepreneurs. "One of the biggest things preventing Norway from having a really successful startup culture is the lack of self-esteem," said Anita Krohn Traaseth, CEO of Innovation Norway. "Two weeks ago a famous entrepreneur came to Oslo. He told us the first word he was introduced to by Norwegians was Jantelov. What kind of a message is Jantelov for the next generation of entrepreneurs? We need to be more ambitious. And the road to success is not Jantelov."

North Americans are far more receptive to online advertising. In the USA, 50% of ad budgets go towards digital advertising campaigns, although much of this is because of the recent COVID-19 lockdowns. And only 300 out of every 100,000 US internet users actively search for ways to block out ads. The number is much lower in Mexico (138/100,000.) Plus, there's another big reason why digital advertising works so well in Mexico; over 99% of the population have an active Facebook account. That's an estimated 90million potential customers logging on almost every day.

Companies searching for untapped digital markets should target Turkey. The country has a small and rapidly growing e-commerce market. Only 20% of internet users in Turkey currently shop online, but 82% have an active social media account. And with just 300 people out of every 100,000 users searching for ad-block software, the Turks appear to have an open-minded approach to online advertising.

In Nigeria just 1 in every 100,000 users is blocking ads, making it the most receptive country in the study. Nigeria is currently experiencing a tech boom, especially in future-industries like blockchain, cryptocurrency, and mobile technology. It is now Africa's largest technology market by internet users and boasts the second-highest tech-startup density on the continent. Most of the innovation is centered around Lagos, which is home to 400 startups valued at over $2 billion. Add on Nigeria's young and burgeoning population, and the country becomes one the most exciting emerging markets on the planet.

But digital marketers should move fast. Nigeria's receptiveness to online advertising may be closely correlated to the buzz around its emerging tech industries and greater access to digital platforms. As people spend more time online, they could develop increasingly cynical attitudes toward pop-ups ads and emails reminding them about another fantastic offer that's too good to miss.

You can see how all the other countries of the world feel about digital advertising in the charts and infographics below.A Map of the Countries That Most Want to Block Internet Ads


Read next: Facebook Has Lost its Dominance Among Key Demographics and Social Media Users

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