Winter is Coming: iOS 9 to Chill Mobile Advertising Industry

David Barton Adblocking, Uncategorized 2 Comments

They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong.  And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.  Tim Cook, Apple CEO, 1 June 2015

iOS 9 is due to arrive on iPhones and iPads  in the fall, along with a new version of Safari which will make it easier than ever to block ads.

Adblock Plus is predictably not very happy about the idea of adblocking going native for Safari, arguing that Apple may in fact cripple alternative adblockers, not to mention that the move threatens the Eyeo’s controversial business model.

But advertisers should also be worried: iOS users account for the majority of mobile web users in the US.  That means a mass advertising whiteout if Apple’s new Content Blocking feature is successfully exploited by adblocking apps.

Nobody is certain exactly what form adblocking will take when it arrives on Safari, but it seems likely to significantly affect mobile advertising on a gargantuan scale and in a very short time. The only company unlikely to suffer is, unsurprisingly, Apple:

Who won’t get screwed by mobile Safari’s content blocking?  Apple’s iAds.  That’s because Apple doesn’t do ads for the browser—it does them in iOS apps. Those ads will never, ever be blockable.  PCMag

While Google is unlikely to endanger its bottom line any further by offering in-built Android or Chrome adblocking, it’s also probable that Android users will not be content to experience an ad-filled Internet when their iOS peers surf undistracted, especially as advertising on Android devices may need to intensify once a huge chunk of the market disappears.

Having been exposed to ad-free iPhones and iPads, Android users could be driven to seek out some of the alternative adblocking methods listed above, creating a snowball effect that could eventually result in the disintegration of the primary business model of the Internet.

Adblocking is rapidly becoming an existential threat for the content industry.  The music and movie industry was caught off guard the boom in file sharing and has spent the last 15 years mired in legal battles and costly whack-a-mole attacks against its own audience.

Advertisers and publishers may face a similarly tectonic wake-up call.

There are steps that can be taken to regain the initiative and address the issue, but it will take leadership on the part of the industry. If nothing is done, mobile advertising may face a long, dark winter with no certainty of a happy ending.

If you think your business is affected by adblocking, you can create a PageFair account to perform a free adblocking audit.  Large publishers can also get in touch with us to discuss a counter-adblocking strategy that is a fit for your properties.

  • Mark

    The only “adblocking strategy” worth its salt is one that treats users with some respect, serves static ads in a reasonable ratio to page content, and which offers, up front, an audited cross web opt out on any and all user tracking.

    Like video and music file sharing, wishful thinking by the industry about what they are offering will not change behaviour. Users hold the whip hand, and that’s unlikely to change in the near future.

  • qka

    PageFair, don’t get complacent. Ghostery blocks you as well as all the other ad networks. And it’s available now for iOS, Android, and Firefox Android.