The study commissioned by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK found 22 per cent of adults in Britain have downloaded ad blocking software.
The software is commonly used among 18- to 24-year-olds, with 34 per cent claiming they block ads online, and 19 per cent of 25- to 34-year olds admitting to using the programmes.
Fewer than one in five of those using ad blockers are using the service on mobiles or tablets. The majority (80 per cent) are using the software on laptops, and 46 per cent on desktop PCs.
Almost 45 per cent of the 2,057 respondents do not realise that the free sites they use are funded by ads. Just 10 per cent are less likely to block ads after being made aware of this.
More than half (52 per cent) of those who use ad blockers said they wanted to block all ads. 12 per cent said it was to block "certain types" of ads and 11 per cent aim to block ads from particular sites.
Over seven out of ten (73 per cent) respondents said the ads interrupted their browsing, and 55 per cent said they found them annoying. More than half also said the ads slow down their experience and 46 per cent said the ads are not relevant.
Guy Phillipson, the chief executive at the IAB, said: "When it comes to a free and an ad-free internet, a lot of consumers want to have their cake and eat it.
"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."