The IAB UK has given a cautious welcome to the latest figures on ad-blocking, which show there has been no increase in the overall number of UK adults using ad blockers since February this year.
According to the research, carried out by YouGov among just over 2,000 UK, there has actually been a slight decrease with 21.2% claiming to be blocking ads in July from 21.7% in February.
In a blog post, IAB UK chief strategy officer Tim Elkington said: “On one hand, this is good news because it contradicts much of the publicity and commentary that ad blocking is on an unstoppable rise. It isn’t.
“However, on the other, it’s obviously still too high a figure and one we all need to continue working on to reduce.”
But Elkington also recognises that the research could be flawed as there is so much confusion among consumers about what is and what is not an ad blocker.
He added: “It’s easy to forget in our industry bubble that the technology and terms we work on daily are not really cared about (and in some instances not understood), by the general public.
“For example, over one fifth of people claiming to use an ad blocker incorrectly cited anti-virus software or ad blockers that don’t exist as their ad blocker. So given that the anti-virus software brands that we asked about don’t include ad blocking functionality there might be some ‘over-claim’ in the research about the number of people who are genuinely using ad blocking software and this over-claim might be as high as 20%.”
The study also tried to understand why over a fifth of people who have downloaded an ad blocker no longer use it.
The biggest rise in why people have turned them off is a lack of trust – up from 6% to 14% among those who have stopped. Interestingly, women are nearly seven times more likely than men to have turned it off for this reason. A further 10% said they turned the ad blocker off because it did not work properly.
A rather confident Elkington maintained that this suggests trust issues and frustrations with the technology could be the start of people stepping back from ad blocking in the future, which he put down to rising awareness of the “value exchange”.
“Two-thirds of online adults are aware that online ads fund free content and services on many websites, while over half are aware that blocking ads means some websites couldn’t afford to offer free access to content,” he claimed.
However, he does concede: “[The research findings] do not mean that the industry should take its foot off the pedal when it comes to providing a better online user experience through moving to a less invasive, lighter and more secure digital advertising.”
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