The Value of First Impressions: The Impact of Ad-Blocking on Web QoE

James Newman*, Fabián E. Bustamante

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


We present the first detailed analysis of ad-blocking’s impact on user Web quality of experience (QoE). We use the most popular web-based ad-blocker to capture the impact of ad-blocking on QoE for the top Alexa 5,000 websites. We find that ad-blocking reduces the number of objects loaded by 15% in the median case, and that this reduction translates into a 12.5% improvement on page load time (PLT) and a slight worsening of time to first paint (TTFP) of 6.54%. We show the complex relationship between ad-blocking and quality of experience - despite the clear improvements to PLT in the average case, for the bottom 10 percentile, this improvement comes at the cost of a slowdown on the initial responsiveness of websites, with a 19% increase to TTFP. To understand the relative importance of this trade-off on user experience, we run a large, crowd-sourced experiment with 1,000 users in Amazon Turk. For this experiment, users were presented with websites for which ad-blocking results in both, a reduction of PLT and a significant increase in TTFP. We find, surprisingly, 71.5% of the time users show a clear preference for faster first paint over faster page load times, hinting at the importance of first impressions on web QoE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPassive and Active Measurement - 20th International Conference, PAM 2019, Proceedings
EditorsDavid Choffnes, Marinho Barcellos
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9783030159856
StatePublished - 2019
Event20th International Conference on Passive and Active Measurement, PAM 2019 - Puerto Varas, Chile
Duration: Mar 27 2019Mar 29 2019

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume11419 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference20th International Conference on Passive and Active Measurement, PAM 2019
CityPuerto Varas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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