The online advertising industry is going for the jugular after new research revealed that almost one in seven (15%) British adults online are using ad blocking software – mainly because they find online ads interruptive or annoying.
Given that survey after survey has found that most consumers find online ads irritating, the only surprise is that the figure is not higher.
However, the findings of the Internet Advertising Bureau UK Ad Blocking report, conducted by YouGov, have triggered a bizarre rant from IAB chief executive Guy Phillipson. Rather than calling for his members to embrace less intrusive methods, Phillipson puts the blame squarely on those who have downloaded the software.
He said: “When it comes to a free and an ad-free Internet, a lot of consumers want to have their cake and eat it. 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.”
It seems men are most to blame; blokes (22%) are currently more than twice as likely to block ads as women (9%) and this is most prevalent among 18-24 (34%) and 25-34 year olds (19%). Regionally, people in the North and Scotland (both 19%) are the most likely to be doing so.
However, only just over half (52%) of those who have used the software said their main motivation was to block all ads; 12% said it was to block certain types of ads, 11% say only to block ads from certain websites.
Ads are most likely to be blocked because they interrupt what people are doing (cited by 73%) or the design is annoying (55%) – e.g. bright colours, pop-ups etc. Over half (54%) do so because ads slow down their web browsing experience. Nearly half (46%) say it’s because the ads aren’t relevant.
Less than half (44%) of British adults online are aware that most websites are free – such as social networks, email, news, music streaming services – because they are funded by advertising.
Two-thirds (66%) of all respondents would still prefer to access free content and have no ads. Only one in five (21%) prefers free content in return for having ads. Just 3% would prefer to pay for content in return for not having ads.
Among those currently using ad blocking software, 80% are doing so on laptops, 46% on desktop PCs. Less than one in five (19%) is blocking ads on tablets or mobiles.
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