11 November 2015
ISBA is leading the way in surfacing inconvenient truths about the phenomenal rise of ad blocking.



ISBA is leading the way in surfacing inconvenient truths about the phenomenal rise of ad blocking.

In the UK 15% of British adults online are currently using ad blocking software and 56% (according to the IAB and YouGov) were not aware that blocking ads meant the website would lose revenue and therefore would not be able to produce the content that they enjoy freely. There are over 3.3bn global internet users of which 215m (7%) using ad blocking software – up 41% on last year. If this trends continues there will be severe consequences for the industry as a whole.

Consumers tend to install ad blocking software on desktops because they find ads to be interruptive, annoying, slows down the surfing experience, irrelevant and there are privacy concerns of targeted ads. On mobile all the concerns of desktops apply and we can add that advertisement with rich media and autoplay video within content, use up data allowance, take over the screen and drain battery life of what is essentially a productivity tool.

ISBA’s Ad Blocking event, held on the 28 October 2015, was one of the first events to focus exclusively on ad blocking and involved advertisers, publishers, broadcasters and ad blockers. The event highlighted the concerns advertisers and publishers face from the increase in usage of ad blocking software.

The aim of the event was to inform members, some of whom were unaware of the ad blocking threat until recently, and discuss the options available to advertisers and publishers.

ISBA has recommended that members ask their media agencies what reassurances they can give to mitigate the problem of ad blocking on their marketing communications.

It was acknowledged that although publishers and advertisers are the key components in the value chain, consumers must be listened to. It was generally agreed that ad blocking is everyone’s problem. Ad blocking is consumer led and they are blocking ads for a number of reasons.

One consequence of the increase in ad blocking is that it is becoming more difficult for advertisers to engage with tech savvy 18 to 24 year old males, who are watching less traditional TV as well as ad blocking on line.

Publishers acknowledged that although ad blocking presents a short tern challenge, it provides a long term opportunity.

Speaking at the event Bob Wootton, ISBA’s Director of Media and Advertising said:

It is important to acknowledge that there is no silver bullet to ad blocking. If advertisers want their advertisement to be seen and enjoyed. The ‘old compact’ between advertiser and user revolved around the moot/implicit understanding that most of the media and content wouldn’t exist without the subsidy from the ads, so they were uninvited but fortunately relatively benign guests, and therefore tolerated. ‘The times they are a changing’ and we are now in a situation where ads are not tolerated. We must go back to the equilibrium where ads are tolerated again. If this is not tackled and resolved soon we will all lose out and the internet will be a lot poorer experience.  

Speaking at the event Michael Todd, Industry Relations Manager, Google said:

"At Google we believe in an ad funded internet and the huge benefits that access to free content brings to people all over the world. We also believe that tackling ad blocking will require the industry to ask some difficult questions about the user ad experience across the whole web. Creating standards will be key, but to be effective, standards will need to be empirical, global and enforceable. It's a challenge that Google is determined to meet head-on working in partnership with ISBA, the IAB and the wider industry."

Speaking at the event Sam Coleman, head of client sales, Guardian News & Media said: 

"The long term solution to ad blocking has to be industry-wide action that treats readers' valuable attention with more respect - creating better, faster ads that work well across all devices without downgrading the overall experience. If this is the wake-up call that creates positive change for readers then it has to be embraced not feared."

Speaking at the event Dominic Good, FT Global Sales Director said:

"The debate around ad blocking is a great opportunity for everyone in the industry to look at the quality of their advertising. At the FT we are always seeking to provide the best service and results for advertisers while preserving the tone and integrity of our editorial environment."


Notes to editors

15% of Britons online are blocking ads source IAB

Ad blocking software - consumer usage and attitudes source IAB

ISBA’s written material on Ad blocking

Brands are moving to help publishers tackle ad blocking – The Drum

Ad blocking the newest game in town! – ISBA blog

Newsline: The five horsemen of the digital apocalypse – Mediatel

Newsline: BBS woes, pushbacks on programmatic and mobile ad-blocking – Mediatel

Reference the IAB’s launch of principles to address Ad Blocking – the LEAN initiative. The IAB’s industry guidance suggests a ‘consumer first’ approach should be taken, with better targeted, more creative, smaller format online ads.

Press contact:

Hicham Felter

ISBA - The Voice of British Advertisers

Communications Manager


T: 020 7291 9020

M: 07901 528 980


About ISBA – the Voice of British Advertisers

ISBA ( / @isbasays) is the only body focused solely on the interests of advertisers in the UK. With over 450 advertisers in membership representing in excess of £10bn spend on marketing communications, ISBA protects its members’ freedom to advertise responsibly and maximise their effectiveness in deploying their marketing spend.

ISBA is the advertiser member of the UK Advertising Association, and advertisers representative on CAP and BCAP the UK advertising code owning body. We are also active members of the International Chamber of Commerce Advertising and Marketing Commission, and members of the WFA based in Brussels.

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