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15% of Brits blocking online ads, threatening free content model

Thursday July 2, 2015 at 7:44am
Almost one in seven (15%) British adults online are currently using ad blocking software, mainly because they find online ads interruptive or annoying, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau UK Ad Blocking report, conducted by YouGov. Over one in five (22%) admitted downloading ad blocking software at some point. Unfortunately, less than half (44%) of them are aware that most websites are free purely because they’re funded by advertising. When an individual blocks ads, the site doesn’t receive ad revenue for that user. Guy Phillipson, chief executive of the IAB UK, says: “The bottom line is that if the web didn’t have ads, most sites could only exist by charging subscriptions. 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. Men (22%) are currently more than twice as likely to block ads as women (9%). Ad blocking 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’ve 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. Men (52%) are much more likely to be aware that blocking ads denies websites revenue and could threaten the free model than women (36%). Awareness also decreases with age – from 59% of 18-24s to 36% of people 55+. However, only 10% of those surveyed said they are less likely to block ads after being made aware that ads fund free content. 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. YouGov’s total sample size was 2,057 adults. The survey was conducted online between 9th-10th June 2015. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is the UK trade association for digital advertising, representing most of the UK’s leading brands, media owners and agencies.
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