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Advertisers, Publishers Won’t Welcome Latest Ad-Blocking Stats

March 1, 2016, 5:17 PM UTC
A new ad-blocking feature is set to come to iOS 9, setting up a confrontation between Apple and Google.
Photograph by Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

The numbers of people in the U.K. who are downloading and using ad-blockers are shooting up, if a survey commissioned by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is to be believed.

The survey of 2,049 adults showed 22% now use ad blockers, up from 18% in October. And 80% of those who have downloaded ad blockers continue to use them.

As for the 20% who do not, the main reason seems to be switching to a new device, followed by websites refusing to show them the content they want if they are using such a tool—nearly two-thirds of respondents said they had encountered this problem.

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The IAB, of course, is against ad-blocking. According to CEO Guy Philipson, the survey shows the industry’s messages about undermining the funding for free online content are at least “starting to filter through.”

“If they realise it means they can’t access content or that to do so requires paying for it, then they might stop using ad blockers,” he said, hopefully.

The survey showed that people are most likely to switch off their ad blocker only for their favorite or most frequently-used sites, though—and even that was only 31% of respondents. A measly 3% said they would comply with any old site’s request to turn off the blocker.

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So, why do people block ads? According to the survey, the main reason is the ads interfere with what they’re doing, with the next-biggest reason being the fact there are too many of them. Interestingly, only 12% of respondents block ads because they find them too irrelevant.

Of those using ad-blocking tools, only 26% are doing so on smartphones and 21% on tablets—the main use case seems to be for laptops (72%) followed by desktop PCs (41%).