UK ad blocking on mobile isn’t big – yet

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According to a new study by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK, 15% of Britons are currently using ad blocking software. The Ad blocking software – consumer usage and attitudes research also found that users are predominantly blocking ads on laptops (80%) versus those on mobile devices such as smartphones (19%) and tablets (19%).
Mobile device users aren’t yet blocking ads as much as laptop owners
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The majority of users (73%) blocked ads because they found them to be disruptive, whilst 55% were annoyed and 54% said ads slowed down browsing.
Ads are disruptive
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According to the study, 44% of Britons are aware that social media sites as well as email and news services are free because they are funded by advertisements. If a user blocks ads, the corresponding site does not receive revenue for her/him. However, only 10% said they would stop blocking ads after being made aware of this fact. Guy Phillipson, CEO, IAB, comments:

“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.”

Whilst blocking ads on mobile devices has been difficult, with Google banning ad-block software from its Play Store, Apple recently announced ad blocking as part of its new iOS 9. This could have wide ranging implications for marketers. In a separate blog post, IAB UK Chairman Richard Eyre reflects on the research saying that if ads went away, the quality of online services would suffer. He writes:

“Our research says people would pay on average 88p a month for social media and £1.33 per month for search. […] Advertising is the currency of the web. People don’t much like paying for anything, but advertising is very clearly preferred to any other form of transaction.  It supports an ecosystem that works for creators of content and services and for users, hence the £7bn spent last year in the UK alone on internet platforms, £1.6bn of that on mobile devices. Advertising is also the simple mechanic that encourages innovation, as new entrants can safely count on earning ad revenues for a product people like.”

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