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Good practice beats ad blockers

News, 28 July 2016

NEW YORK: As marketers continue to grapple with the ongoing issue of ad blocking, they may be encouraged by a new survey that found two-thirds of US consumers would be willing to disable ad blocking software in the right circumstances.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), which is at the forefront of the industry's efforts to solve the problem, commissioned C3Research to gauge the views of nearly 1,300 computer users and 201 mobile users in the US.

Entitled "Ad Blocking: Who Blocks Ads, Why, and How to Win Them Back", the report examined the motivations behind ad blocking and proposed five recommendations for encouraging users to switch off the software.

The survey found that all users, especially consumers who use ad blockers, want uninterrupted, quick browsing and a streamlined user experience.

Yet the top irritations for consumers are ads that block content, long video ads that appear before short videos, and ads that follow down the page as the user scrolls. Not surprisingly, consumers who use ad blockers are even more annoyed by these types of ads.

Delving deeper, the survey found that consumers who use ad blockers tend to blame ads for slow loading pages, while those not currently using ad blockers tend to blame the content for slow loading pages.

Overall, around a quarter (26%) of respondents block ads on their computers while 15% block them on their smartphones, and in both cases they are usually men aged 18 to 34.

Interestingly, the report also revealed some technical misunderstanding among respondents. This is because 40% thought they were using an ad blocker, yet only 26% actually had the software installed.

The IAB attributed the difference to those who wrongly thought their built-in pop-up blocker or security software was the same as an ad blocker.

Survey participants were also asked about the IAB's LEAN principles, which the organisation has been promoting for some time, and the report proposed that their adoption has the greatest influence in convincing users to disable ad blockers.

According to the IAB, there are five key measures advertisers should adopt. These include preventing access to content alongside a notice stating that content is blocked because of the use of an ad blocker.

Advertisers should also ensure that ads do not have auto-play audio or video; make certain that ads do not block content; safeguard users from ads that are infected with malware/viruses; and guarantee that ads do not slow down browsing.

"This study provides actionable insights and guidance for the entire industry to improve user experience and potentially convince consumers to disable ad blockers," said Randall Rothenberg, the IAB's President and CEO.

"It's encouraging to see how favourably the IAB LEAN principles were received – confirming that they are critical to the marketplace."

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff