21.2 per cent of UK online adults used an ad blocker in July 2016, according to research by the IAB and YouGov – down slightly from February's figure of 21.7 per cent.
That drop is narrow enough that it may just be down to a difference in survey respondents, but it's nonetheless notable in the face of the past year's fears over the rise of ad blocking. The decline is driven by a relatively sharp drop in ad block usage among men – down from 30 per cent to 27 per cent – who are, as a group, much more likely to use ad blockers than women (27 per cent versus 16 per cent).
Perhaps more importantly, 22 per cent of people who’ve downloaded an ad blocker say they no longer use it. The most common reasons are switching to a new device (21 per cent) or being unable to access content due to the blocker (18 per cent), but one reason that's on the rise is a lack of trust (14 per cent, compared to just six per cent in February).
“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,” said IAB UK CEO Guy Phillipson.
Ad Block Plus is by far the biggest provider, accounting for 50 per cent of ad blocker users.
However, the report also shows signs of confusion as to exactly what constitutes an ad blocker, with 20 per cent of those who said they use an ad blocker actually naming anti-virus software, and a further four per cent naming a non-existent blocker.
There is a growing awareness of the 'value exchange', with 67 per cent saying they are aware that advertising funds online content, and 55 per cent understanding that ad blockers mean some sites can't afford to offer free content. 55 per cent of current ad blocker users say they would switch it off if this was the only way to access content.
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