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Ellen Hammett 

15% of UK adults use ad blockers, finds IAB report

15% of UK adults use ad blockers, finds IAB report

As people become increasingly annoyed with disruptive, poorly-targeted ads online, new research from the IAB reveals that almost one in seven (15%) British adults online currently use ad blocking software, while 22% have downloaded the software at some point.

The report, conducted by YouGov, found that men are currently more than twice as likely to block ads than women (22% and 9%, respectively), with ad blocking most prevalent among 18-24 (34%) and 25-34 year olds (19%).

Among those currently using ad blocking software, 80% are doing so on laptops, 46% on desktop PCs, and 19% on tablets or mobiles.

However, in what may come as a relief to advertisers, only just over half (52%) of those who have used ad blockers said their main motivation was to block all ads, while 12% said it was to block certain types of ads and 11% said it was only to block ads from certain websites.

Ads are most likely to be blocked because they interrupt what people are doing (73%) or because the design is annoying (55%), while 54% said it's because ads slow down their web browsing experience and 46% said it's because the ads aren't relevant.

Just one in three are concerned about privacy.

IAB ad blocking

The research also found that only 44% of British adults online are aware that most websites are free because they're funded by advertising.

Men (52%) are more likely to be aware of this than women (36%), with awareness also decreasing with age - from 59% of 18-24s to 36% of people 55+.

However, only 10% are less likely to block ads after being made aware that ads fund free content.

Two thirds of all respondents said that they would still prefer to access free content and have no ads, while 21% prefers free content in return for having ads and just 3% would prefer to pay for content in return for not having ads.

"When it comes to a free and an ad-free internet, a lot of consumers want to have their cake and eat it," said IAB's CEO, Guy Phillipson.

"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."

Earlier this year, Adblock Plus defeated a group of German publishers who took the company to court arguing that the product was anti-competitive.

The ad-blocking company, which has been downloaded more than 400 million times, was sued by Zeit Online GmbH and Handelsblat under the charge that it should not be allowed to block ads on websites owned by the prosecuting companies; however, the court ruled in favour of Adblock Plus, therefore upholding the right of Adblock Plus users across the globe to continue to block ads as they wish.

The company has since launched a beta ad-blocking browser for Android mobile devices which will automatically block "annoying" adware in an effort to speed up mobile browsing and save battery life.

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