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Fifth of UK adults block ads

News, 01 March 2016

LONDON: Ad blocking in the UK is growing at the rate of roughly one percentage point a month, as new figures reveal 22% of UK adults are currently using ad blocking software, up from 18% in October.

The data comes from the latest wave of the Internet Advertising Bureau UK's Ad Blocking Report, conducted online among 2,049 adults by YouGov.

The highest level of ad blocking occurred amongst 18-24 year olds (47%), while 45-54 year olds were the least likely to block ads (16%), along with women (14%).

Publishers are adopting a variety of strategies to address the problem, and it appears that, in the UK at least, a straightforward request to turn off can frequently have the desired effect.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents who had downloaded ad blocking software said they received a notice from a website asking them to turn it off. And over half (54%) said that, in certain situations, they would switch off their ad blocker if a website said it was the only way to access content. And this figure rose to nearly three-quarters (73%) of 18-24 year olds.

One fifth (20%) of people who had downloaded an ad blocker indicated that they no longer used it, but most often this was simply because they had changed to a new device. Not being able to access content they wanted was the second most popular reason for doing this.

Once again, the intrusive nature of much digital advertising was cited as the main reason for blocking ads: some 45% of respondents said they would be less likely to block ads if these didn't interfere with what they were doing.

That was well ahead of other factors such as having fewer ads on a page (29%) and ads being more relevant (12%).

But Guy Phillipson, IAB UK CEO, felt that, despite the increased use of blocking, the organisation's message was starting to get through to consumers who were becoming aware of the consequences.

"If they realise it means they can't access content or that to do so requires paying for it, then they might stop using ad blockers," he said. "It requires reinforcing this 'trade-off' message – ads help to fund the content they enjoy for free."

Data sourced from IAB UK; additional content by Warc staff