Ad blocking on the rise in the UK

Eighteen per cent of web users now say they are using ad blockers, up from 15 per cent five months ago.

The increase has been reported by the latest research by the Internet Advertising Bureau, is equivalent to more than 1.3 million people adopting the technology since June. Although the increase is modest, it suggests dissatisfaction with ads is growing — especially among the young, with 35 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds saying they blocked ads, compared to just 15 per cent of over 55s.

Ad blocking is more prevalent among men surveyed (23 per cent) than women (13 per cent) and the propensity to block ads decreases with age – from 35 per cent of 18-24 year olds to 13 per cent of people aged 55 or over.

40 per cent’s main motivation isn’t to block all ads

However, less than six in 10 (57 per cent) people who’ve ever downloaded the software said their main motivation was to block all ads; 20 per cent said the main reason was to block certain types of ads or ads from certain websites.

Less interference and fewer ads main ways to stop ad blocking

The most common reason people would be less likely to block ads is if they didn’t interfere with what they were doing (cited by 48%) followed by having fewer ads on a page (36 per cent). One in seven (14 per cent) would be less likely to block ads if they were more relevant.

“The small rise in people blocking ads is not unexpected considering the publicity it’s been receiving,” said IAB UK’s CEO, Guy Phillipson. “However, it does provide some perspective on the situation for those referring to an “adblockalypse.” More importantly, it also provides a clear message to the industry – a less invasive, lighter ad experience is absolutely vital to address the main cause of ad blocking. That’s why we’re developing the L.E.A.N advertising principles for the online advertising supply chain.”

Majority still prefer free content and ads vs having to pay

When told that ad blocking means some websites will have to stop providing free content or charge people to use them, 61 per cent of British adults online said they would prefer to access content for free and see ads than pay to access content.

Phillipson added, “The other key tactic to reduce ad blocking is making consumers more aware of the consequences – what we call the “value exchange.” If more people realise content is only free because ads pay for it, then fewer people will be inclined to block ads. Only 4% are willing to face the other option – paying for content with no ads.”

Among those currently using ad blocking software, 71 per cent are doing so on laptops, 47 per cent on desktop PCs. Just under a quarter (23 per cent) are blocking ads on mobiles and less than one in five (19 per cent) on tablets.