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Ad Blockers Are Used By 18 Percent Of UK Web Users

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Publishers should have less invasive adverts and make users aware of the consequences of ad blocking, industry body says

Nearly one in five British adults are using ad blocking software while using the web, up three percent over the past three months according to new research from the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK).

However, two fifths of people say their main motivation is not to block all ads, with 20 percent stating they simply wanted to block certain types of adverts from certain websites.

Half said they would be less likely to employ such software if online ads didn’t interfere with what a user was doing, while 36 percent claimed fewer ads on a page would make them likely to reconsider. Intriguingly for the likes of Google and Facebook, 14 percent said they would prefer it if ads were more relevant.

Read More: What Does AdBlock Plus Mean For The Future Of Online Publishers?

Ad blocking rise

adblockOf those who use ad blockers, 71 percent do so on a laptop, 47 percent on a desktop, 23 percent on a mobile and 19 percent on a tablet. Use in the latter two categories could increase now that Apple allows ad-blockers in Safari on iOS.

Ad blocking is considered a threat to the online publishing industry, many of whom rely on advertising revenues to fund content. However the IAB UK says its findings show the current model of invasive advertising needs rethinking.

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

Many use ad blockers for other reasons, believing some creatives slow down system performance and reduce battery life, while others hold security fears. A number of advertising networks have been used to launch malvertising attacks in recent times.

However, the IAB says making web users aware of the consequences could lead to a change in behaviour. Nearly two thirds say they prefer free, ad-supported content to a subscription-based model.

“The other key tactic to reduce ad blocking is making consumers more aware of the consequences – what we call the ‘value exchange’,” added Phillipson. “If more people realise content is only free because ads pay for it, then fewer people will be inclined to block ads. Only 4 percent are willing to face the other option – paying for content with no ads.”

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