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Consumers choose selective ad blocking

News, 11 November 2015

LONDON: The past four months have seen a three-point rise in the proportion of UK adults using ad blocking software, but new research also suggests that many are only looking to block certain types of advertising.

The latest wave of the Internet Advertising Bureau UK's Ad Blocking Report, was conducted online among 2,052 UK adults by YouGov. This found that 18% are currently using ad blocking software, up from 15% in early June.

But less than six in 10 (57%) people who'd ever downloaded the software said their main motivation was to block all ads; 20% said the main reason was to block certain types of ads or ads from certain websites.

Two particular bugbears were clear: disruptive ads and the sheer volume of advertising.

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%).

And while brands are often encouraged to develop relevant advertising as a way of deterring such activity, that by itself is not going to be enough: just 14% of respondents said they would be less likely to block ads if they were more relevant.

Concerns have also been expressed about the behind-the-scenes impact of ads on data loading speeds, particularly on mobile, but only 9% said faster loading of ads would make them less likely to block ads. And a mere 6% said better designed ads would have that effect.

"The small rise in people blocking ads is not unexpected considering the publicity it's been receiving," said Guy Phillipson, IAB UK CEO. "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."

He also stressed the importance of educating consumers on the value exchange of advertising.

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

"If more people realise content is only free because ads pay for it, then fewer people will be inclined to block ads," said Phillipson. "Only 4% are willing to face the other option – paying for content with no ads."

Data sourced from IAB UK; additional content by Warc staff