Asking customers to turn off their ad blockers could prove more effective than you think, according to a national survey conducted last month.
A study done by the Australian body of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has discovered 27% of Australians use ad blocking services, a higher amount than previously estimated.
A survey of over 1800 users revealed nearly 30% of Australians used ad blocking services on their mobiles or desktops, and 14% had used them before, but no longer did.
A startling 41% did not know about ad blocking services, and a further 19% were aware of them but had never used one.
The study was undertaken by survey company Pureprofile on the behalf of the IAB Australia Ad Blocking Taskforce to gain a “clear understanding of how and why ad blockers are being used”. The taskforce includes representatives from Google, Fairfax, Telstra, and News Corp.
Vijay Solanki, chief executive at IAB Australia, told SmartCompany the majority of ad blocking use comes from “young techie males”.
“What I’ve seen from our surveys and from talking to other IAB bodies around the world, there’s a lot of young guys into tech who know about this stuff, and they get their friends and families onto it too,” Solanki says.
In February, Mumbrella reported an executive from advertising media company GroupM, Timothy Whitfield, estimated the amount of ad blocking users in Australia to be much lower.
“When I measured it by looking at a single server, one data set over another data set, it was 7.3% in Australia,” Whitfield told the Programmatic Summit in Sydney.
The survey also touched on the primary reasons consumers used ad blocking services, with 20% of users claiming they use them to block potential viruses infecting their computers.
Solanki says that statistic “really surprised” him, and with some further digging he found the reason behind the number.
“The primary reason that people installed ad blockers is when it is packaged in with some other antiviral software, and the user just decides to go with it,” Solanki says.
“In reality, there is a tiny majority of publishers that will serve fraudulent ads. Usually it is the less mainstream and dodgier sites that will have ads that attempt to infect your computer with malware.”
A dialogue with customers
Seventy percent of ad blocker users are asked by websites to disable their ad blockers in order to see content. Out of those who had been asked, 72% either disabled the blocking service or “whitelisted” the website, which keeps the blocker active but allows ads through on that website alone.
Solanki believes this shows more savvy publishers are realising they can have a beneficial “dialogue” with consumers.
“If publishers explain that their ads pay for their content and their journalists, most consumers go ‘okay fair enough’,” he says.
“I’ve talked to other IAB bodies around the world and they’re seeing the same thing. 7/10 users in France turn off or whitelist the site on request.”
“I think the vast majority of users see the value exchange taking place.”
The survey also revealed users dislike when advertisements cover content on websites, with 44% of respondents stating they were likely to stop using ad blockers if the site could guarantee the ads would not block content.
Solanki hopes to get more publishers on board to convey this message.
“We want to make sure that publishers can communicate the benefits of the ads they serve, such as them being safe from viruses and that they won’t cover content,” he says.
“We’re hoping to provide more guidelines so publishers can better communicate with consumers.”
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