July 26, 2016 Last Updated 5:51 pm

IAB looks at ad blocker users, and how to win them back

One of the study’s surprising results showed that while 40 percent of users believed they were using ad blockers on their computers, only one in four (26%) actually used the software on their PCs

NEW YORK, NY – July 26, 2016 – The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) today released “Ad Blocking: Who Blocks Ads, Why, and How to Win Them Back,” a research report that shows two-thirds of U.S. consumers using ad blockers could be convinced to uninstall their ad blocking software on their computers. The study was conducted by C3Research, which surveyed nearly 1300 computer users and 201 mobile users in the U.S., including a mix of those who employ ad blockers and those who don’t. The report reveals that the top methods for influencing web visitors to turn off blockers on their computers include:

  • Preventing access to content alongside a notice stating that content is blocked because of the use of an ad blocker
  • Ensuring that ads do not have auto-play audio or video in environments where they aren’t anticipated by consumers
  • Making certain that ads do not block content
  • Safeguarding users from ads that are infected with malware/viruses
  • Guaranteeing that ads do not slow down browsing

Former users of ad blockers also cited preventing access to content as their top reason for disabling the software.

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The study’s findings confirm that consumers – whether currently blocking ads or not – are most annoyed by advertisements that delay or obscure access to website content. Long-video ads before short videos were the next most irritating to users, followed by ads that traveled with visitors as they scrolled down the page.

Respondents who use ad blockers stated that the adoption of the LEAN principles (Light, Encrypted, AdChoice supported, and Non-invasive ads), which address a number of the tactics outlined above, would have the greatest influence in getting them to turn off ad blockers. For instance, results showed that men ages 18-34, who are the main ad blocking demographic on desktops, are also the group most inclined to turn off blocking if sites adhere to LEAN.

The research also uncovered different concerns and priorities between the ad blocker users and non-users. The former prioritize the ability to browse online with limited interruptions and prefer websites with a streamlined interface. They are more annoyed than most people when it comes to web advertising and are more likely to describe themselves as easily distracted by ads. Non-users, particularly those who are considering installing an ad blocker, are more concerned about getting viruses while browsing online.

One of the study’s surprising results showed that while 40 percent of users believed they were using ad blockers on their computers, only one in four (26%) actually used the software on their PCs. The rest confused built-in pop-up blockers and security software with ad blockers. In addition, while a quarter of consumers use ad blockers on their PCs, just 15 percent use them on their smartphones.

“This study provides actionable insights and guidance for the entire industry to improve user experience and potentially convince consumers to disable ad blockers,” said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB. “It’s encouraging to see how favorably the IAB LEAN principles were received – confirming that they are critical to the marketplace.”

“The next step in bringing ad blocking consumers back into the fold is the establishment of a LEAN scoring system, which will allow for user experience to be measured against clear-cut benchmarks,” said Alanna Gombert, Senior Vice President, Technology and Ad Operations, IAB, and General Manager, IAB Tech Lab. “The IAB Tech Lab is on track to provide a LEAN scoring algorithm and publish initial LEAN scorecard recommendations by the end of this year.”

To download the complete “Ad Blocking: Who Blocks Ads, Why, and How to Win Them Back,” please visit iab.com/adblockingstudy.

Methodology

The research was conducted by C3Research, which surveyed 1292 computer/desktop users and 201 mobile users in the U.S. All participants were adults 18 and older. Before the survey was undertaken, the firm conducted an eye tracker lab study of 103 U.S. adults ages 18+ representing a mix of ad block users and non-users. Consumers in the lab study viewed 36 websites on desktop and mobile devices in total. A mix of sites was selected to represent a variety of content types and ad load times, and 12 were chosen due to their high volume of video offerings. Participants evaluated 924 live digital advertisements in the lab phase of the study.

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