15 percent of Britons are blocking ads – putting free content and services at risk

15 percent of Britons are blocking ads – putting free content and services at risk

  • More prevalent among men and 18-34 year olds
  • Only half of ad blockers do so primarily to block all ads
  • Main motivation is to block “interruptive” or “annoying” ads
  • Nearly half of adults online are unaware that ads fund content at little or no cost

London, 1 July 2015: Almost 1 in 7 (or 15 percent) British adults online are currently using ad blocking software – mainly because they find online ads interruptive or annoying – according to the Internet Advertising Bureau U.K. Ad Blocking report, conducted by YouGov.

Over 1 in 5 (or 22 percent) admitted having downloaded the software at some point.

Men and 18-34s most likely to block ads
Men (22 percent) are currently more than twice as likely to block ads than women (9 percent). It’s most prevalent among 18-24 (34 percent) and 25-34 year olds (19 percent). Regionally, people in the North and Scotland (both 19 percent) are the most likely to be doing so.

Only half do so primarily to block all ads
However, only just over half (52 percent) of those who’ve used the software said their main motivation was to block all ads; twelve percent said it was to block certain types of ads and 11 percent say only to block ads from certain websites.

why people

Ads are most likely to be blocked because they interrupt what people are doing (cited by 73 percent) or the design is annoying (55 percent) – e.g. bright colors, pop-ups etc. Over half (54 percent) do so because ads slow down their Web browsing experience. Nearly half (46 percent) say it’s because the ads aren’t relevant.

Large numbers unaware ads fund free content
Less than half (44 percent) of British adults online are aware that most websites are free – such as social networks, email, news, music streaming services – because they’re funded by advertising. Thus, when an individual blocks ads, the site doesn’t receive ad revenue for that user.

Men (52 percent) are much more likely to be aware of this than women (36 percent). Awareness also decreases with age – from 59 percent of 18-24s to 36 percent of people 55 and up.

However, only 10 percent are less likely to block ads after being made aware that ads fund free content.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of all respondents would still prefer to access free content and have no ads. Only 1 in 5 (or 21 percent) prefers free content in return for having ads. Just 3 percent would prefer to pay for content in return for not having ads.

“When it comes to a free and an ad-free Internet, a lot of consumers want to have their cake and eat it,” said IAB’s CEO, Guy Phillipson. “However, those unaware that most online services are free – or cost very little – because sites make money from showing visitors ads, could be in for a shock if websites start charging for access because ad blocking reduces their revenue from advertising.

“The bottom line is that if the Web didn’t have ads, most sites could only exist by charging subscriptions.”

Among those currently using ad blocking software, 80 percent are doing so on laptops, 46 percent on desktop PCs and 19 percent on tablets or mobiles.

YouGov’s total sample size was 2,057 adults. The survey was conducted online between 9-10 June 2015. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18 and up).

About the Internet Advertising Bureau
The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is the U.K. trade association for digital advertising, representing most of the U.K.’s leading brands, media owners and agencies. Given the rapidly evolving nature of the digital landscape, the IAB works to ensure that marketers can maximise the potential of digital media and mobile devices, helping members engage their customers and build great brands. By disseminating knowledge and fostering dialogue through research, policy guidance, training and events, the IAB aims to be every marketer’s authoritative and objective source for best practices in Internet advertising. To access the IAB’s current research, policy briefings, training opportunities and events schedule, please visit www.iabuk.net.

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