IAB: Two-Thirds of Ad Block Users Are Open to Turning Off Software

People Who Run Ad Blockers Are Willing to Change, But Industry Also Needs to

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People run ad blockers for obvious reasons: Autoplay videos with sound, slow loading web pages and, once again, autoplay videos with sound.

What's not obvious, however, is that two-thirds of U.S. consumers who run ad blockers could be convinced to uninstall them should the industry take some steps to change habits deemed annoying by most online users.

That's according to a research report released Tuesday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The comprehensive report reveals that the top methods for influencing web visitors to turn off blockers are:

  • preventing access to content alongside a notice stating that content is blocked because of the use of ad blockers;
  • ensuring that ads do not have auto-play audio or video in environments where they aren't anticipated by the consumer;
  • make certain that ads do not block content;
  • safeguard users from malware;
  • guaranteeing that ads do not slow down browsing.

People were most annoyed by advertisements that delay or obscure access to content, the IAB said. Sitting at a close No. 2: Long-video ads that run before short videos are played. And finally, the study said ads that traveled with visitors as they scrolled down the page is the third most irritating tactic used by publishers to generate revenue off their content.

The IAB says that respondents would be more likely to turn off ad blockers should publishers adopt its LEAN principles for ads: Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported and Non-invasive. According to the IAB, men aged 18-34 are the most likely group to run ad blockers on desktop, but also the group most inclined to turn off blocking if a site adheres to LEAN principles.

"Publishers, advertisers and agencies will all benefit from the research," Alanna Gombert, senior VP-technology and ad operations at the IAB, said. "Behavior change will include lighter creative, streamlined ad units on page and an attention to user experience. The number one user annoyance factor according to the study are ads that block content. This fact alone is a conversation starter for the principals in an advertising transaction to create the best possible consumer experience."

Meanwhile, among those considering installing ad blockers, the threat of malware or viruses was listed as a primary motivation to install the software. People who do use ad blockers, however, said they mainly do so because they want limited interruptions when browsing a website.

The study also included a head scratcher: 40% of users believed they were using ad blockers on their computer when, in fact, only 26% were. Many confused built-in pop-up blockers and security software with ad blockers as what many publishers regard as, well, actual ad blockers.

The study said only a quarter of consumers use ad blockers on their PC, but only 15% do so on their smartphones.

"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," Ms. Gombert said. "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."

The research was conducted by C3Research, an Orlando-based marketing research company. It surveyed nearly 1,300 desktop users and 200 mobile users in the U.S.

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