Ad blocking software used by 15% of Brits says IAB

Almost one in seven (15 per cent) British adults online are currently using ad blocking software according to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK Ad Blocking report, conducted by YouGov.

The study showed that the main motivation for using ad blockers is to block 'interruptive' (73 per cent) or 'annoying' (55 per cent) ads, with over one in five (22 per cent) admitting to downloading the software at some point.

Men (22 per cent) are currently more than twice as likely to block ads as women (9 per cent), and ad blocking is most prevalent among 18-24 (34 per cent) and 25-34 year olds (19 per cent). Regionally, people in the north and Scotland (both 19 per cent) are the most likely to be doing so.

However, only just over half (52 per cent) of those who’ve used the software said their main motivation was to block all ads; 12 per cent said it was to block certain types of ads, 11 per cent said only to block ads from certain websites.

Over half (54 per cent) of the 2057 people surveyed said that they use ad blocking software do so because ads slow down their web browsing experience. Nearly half (46 per cent) said it’s because the ads aren’t relevant.

Interestingly large numbers of British adults are unaware that ads fund free content; only 44 per cent are conscious that most websites are free – such as social networks, email, news, music streaming services – because they’re funded by advertising.

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

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

“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 per cent are doing so on laptops, 46 per cent on desktop PCs. Less than one in five (19 per cent) is blocking ads on tablets or mobiles.

Natalie Mortimer

Natalie is The Drum's fashion, design, luxury and food & drink reporter.

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