Concerns over interruptions to browsing experiences has led to Millennials driving UK adoption of ad-blocking software, according to a YouGov study commissioned by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB).

The report, which follows an IAB release on Monday (June 29) regarding programmatic advertising, shows that younger males are the most likely to use plug-ins like AdBlock Plus to rid the presence of ads on websites.

Downloads for such programs are highest among those aged 18-24, with 34% choosing to prevent certain ads from getting on their screens, compared to an average of 15% across Britain.

The survey found that 19% of 25-34 year olds are choosing to do the same, with the men across all age categories outscoring the women in terms of adoption, based on uptake of 22% vs 9%. 

Awareness of these tools also decreases up the age categories, with just 36% of over-55s hearing about software for blocking ads, compared to 59% of 18-24 year olds.

The tools haven’t entered the mainstream without a struggle, however. The AdBlock browser extension, used by over 400 million users worldwide, has been summoned to court on four separate occasions following dispute from publishers who believe it to be in violation of antitrust and anticompetitive laws.

Why we do it

In terms of why people choose to block ads on their computers, the reasons shouldn’t send too many shocks down the spines of advertisers.

An interruption to the browsing experience was the top choice on 73%, with the annoying qualities of web advertising being picked up by 55%.       

What might be interesting is the 31% that voted for privacy concerns about targeted ads. With more and more brands stressing the need for personalisation and making sure each customer is catered for, the trick will be to apply the personal touch without being too invasive.

Free to view

Another key debate surrounding ad blockers is that publishers and app developers will often sell inventory to keep their products free. While this is frequently picked up on by commentators from the advertising world, that awareness doesn’t appear to be transferring across to the consumer.

Less than half (44%) of the UK population recognise that everyday web services like social networks, news sites and streaming services don’t charge their users due to a flood of their earnings coming from ad revenue.

“When it comes to a free and an ad-free internet, a lot of consumers want to have their cake and eat it,” said IAB’s CEO, Guy Phillipson.

“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.”