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Frustrated by all these online ads? They're there for a reason

Less than half of UK adults are aware about advertising's role in most free content online and even less are using ad-blocking software, a recent survey has revealed.

The YouGov survey commissioned by the Internet Advertising Bureau showed that the results had significant variations: 59 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 know ads pay for free content online, while only 36 per cent of over 55's know about it. In terms of gender, 52 per cent of men said they were aware, compared to 36 per cent among women.

In addition, only more than a fifth of the UK adults say that they have downloaded an ad-blocking software and 15 per cent were using it.

However, across those who were unaware that ads were funding free content, only 10 per cent said they were less likely to block ads after being told, though this increased to 15 per cent among 18 to 24-year-olds.

The major reason for this, the survey showed, is the user-experience, with 73 per cent saying that they blocked ads due to interruption.

The study has expressed that companies could use a different form of advertisement to avoid people from using ad blockers.

"When it comes to a free and an ad-free internet, a lot of consumers want to have their cake and eat it," said the IAB chief executive, Guy Phillipson. "However, those unaware that most online services are free – or cost very little – because sites make money from showing visitors ads, could be in for a shock if websites start charging for access because ad blocking reduces their revenue from advertising."

"The bottom line is that if the web didn't have ads, most sites could only exist by charging subscriptions," Phillipson added.