IAB Research Finds There has Been No Rise in Ad-Blocker Adoption in the UK


adblockingFollowing a week where Facebook announced it could circumvent ad-blockers, only for ad-blockers and academics to tell them they can do no such thing, it seems the industry is still lacking a silver bullet when it comes to finding an ad-blocking solution that balances the needs of consumers and publishers. However, the IAB has some positive news. There appears to have been no increase in the overall number of UK adults online using ad blockers, according to the IAB’s latest quarterly report, which was carried out in conjunction with YouGov. The survey found that 21 percent of UK adults used ad-blockers in July, compared to 22 percent in February. While YouGov found there was a slight increase in usage among women, this more than offset by a decline among men, with 18-24s remain the most likely demographic to use an ad blocker (38 percent).

The survey also found that Adblock Plus is the most popular ad blocker, with 50 percent of users saying they use Adblock Plus. There also seems to be some confusion among consumers as to what is and isn’t an ad blocker – over one in five who claim to use an ad blocker, incorrectly cited anti-virus software or ad blockers that don’t exist. Consequently, genuine ad blocking levels might be lower than reported.

Guy Phillipson, IAB UK’s CEO, said “It’s encouraging to see ad blocking plateauing but it certainly isn’t a sign the industry needs to take its foot off the pedal in terms of moving to a less invasive, lighter and more user-friendly ad experience.”

The findings also found that the industry could do a much better job when it comes to explaining the value exchange. Just 67 percent of online adults are aware that online advertising funds free content and services on many websites, while 55 percent are aware that blocking online ads means some websites couldn’t afford to offer free access to content. However, there is hope as nearly one in five (18%) people say they’re less likely to block ads in the future, knowing that the alternative could mean websites will be forced to start charging.

When it came to turning off ad-blockers off:

  • Over a fifth (22 percent) of people who’ve downloaded an ad blocker no longer use it. The biggest rise in why people have turned it off is a lack of trust (up from 6 percent to 14 percent among those who’ve stopped). Women are nearly 7x more likely than men to have turned it off for this reason (27 percent vs 4 percent).
  • Over two-thirds (68 percent) of people who’ve ever used an ad blocker have received a notice asking them to turn it off.
  • Over half (55 percent) of ad blockers said they would switch it off if it was the only way to access content. 18-24s (72 percent) are the most likely to do this.


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