Member blog – IAB UK – Ad blocking: The truth is out there
I’ll admit before I start that media research doesn’t really compare to the FBI’s X Files unit. We don’t get to investigate unsolvable, mysterious crimes and we don’t get to carry a gun but sometimes we do need to study data to help assemble the truth regarding an industry issue. In this case, that issue is ad blocking.
In February 2017, the IAB released that 22.1% of British adults online are using an ad blocker. When looking at the IAB data year on year the number of people ad blocking has stabilised. From the research we can’t be sure about exactly why this is but possible influencing factors are:
- Publishers denying ad blocking users access to their content via either a “wall” or via technology that restricts content alongside ads (24% of respondents cited this as the main reason for switching their ad blocker off).
- People spending more time on mobile devices, where ad blocking levels are presently much lower compared to desk/laptops.
- Media owners improving the advertising experience they offer. For instance, by adopting the IAB LEAN principles.
However, analysing the results wasn’t entirely straight forward, the research also showed that 18% of current ad blockers did not name an actual ad blocker, citing instead their anti-virus software or a non-existent ad blocker, when asked which software they used. This suggests that the actual number of people blocking ads in Britain is lower than 22.1% – trusting people to self-report accurately is one of the problems when using claimed survey data.
In an attempt to get as close to the truth as possible we cross referenced the IAB’s latest data with other sources from around the industry. This was made complicated as different companies are conducting research in different ways, so it did genuinely feel like a mystery that needed solving.
We have summarised and drawn conclusions using ad blocking data from the IAB and three other companies: eMarketer, PageFair and comScore which you can read in more detail here.
One interpretation of all these data points is that ad blocking isn’t accelerating at speed, as was once feared, and that less than 22.1% of British adults online are using an ad blocker but, in all honesty we don’t know for absolute certain yet. What we do know is the industry has to continue to work hard to offer audiences a high-quality experience when advertising to them online.
So, on the subject of ad blocking, the truth definitely is out there and the IAB, alongside others, will continue acting as Mulder and Scully on the industry’s behalf.
Overview of IAB UK’s latest adblocking research