IAB Study Says 26% of Desktop Users Turn On Ad Blockers

Report digs into why people tune out digital promos

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The Interactive Advertising Bureau has been vocal about the ongoing ad-blocking war between publishers and blockers, and now it has data to back up its position.

According to a new IAB report, 26 percent of desktop users and 15 percent of mobile consumers use blockers to remove ads from publishers' websites. Roughly 32 percent of ad blockers across both groups are males between 18 and 34, and 22 percent are women of the same age.

In terms of people who aren't using ad blockers, 20 percent were convinced to stop using them because a blocker wiped out a publisher's content, for instance, or messages asked them to turn ad blocking off. Another 17 percent of non-ad block users are "at risk to start doing so," according to the study.

The IAB's findings are based on two sets of research: a lab session involving an eye-tracking study and quantitative studies.

In the eye-tracking portion, 103 adults were shown ads across 36 websites including Everyday Health, ESPN, Gizmodo, Uproxx, Mental Floss, Glamour, Racked, Outdoor Channel TV and Motor Trend. In each two-hour session, users spent eight minutes on a site looking at ads. Each participant looked at three websites and spent 24 minutes with ads. They were then asked to rate the campaigns and answer questions about their knowledge of ad blocking. In total, the lab portion of the research tracked 924 live digital ads.

There was also a survey component to the research that included a panel of 201 adults who looked at mobile ads and 1,292 who looked at desktop ads. After being asked about their website preferences, consumers were asked to look at a website for at least three minutes and answer questions about the ads and their web habits.

A total of 330 people who said they used ad blockers blamed ads for making websites slower, either because the ads were too data-heavy or because there were too many of them.

The anti-ad sentiment is a bit stronger with mobile blockers versus desktop blockers.

Not surprisingly, animated, moving and autoplay ads irritated consumers who used ad blockers the most, as did ads that covered up content and long video promos.

@laurenjohnson lauren.johnson@adweek.com Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.