During the next iteration of Apple’s iOS 9, consumers will have the option to download ad-blocking software to stop mobile ads from appearing in their mobile Safari browser. While Apple has stated that this update is for consumers to have a cleaner and quicker mobile web experience (mobile ads take bandwidth which slows down your webpage loading time), it is clear this is a shot at their biggest rival—Google. While Apple’s main source of revenue is from selling devices such as iPhones and iPads, Google’s main revenue stream is from advertisements.
How will this affect advertisers?
Advertisers should be cognizant of this update; however, understanding the available options to continue communicating with their consumers is vital. Apple offers iAd, which is an OS-level ad platform that will sidestep the ad-blocking software to continue showing ads. Also, advertisements will still be permitted on mobile apps, which hold 80% of all mobile advertising inventory. While approximately 42% of consumers utilize the Safari mobile browser, those consumers also need to download the app-blocking extension. Ad-blocking extensions are nothing new, as Adblock Plus, which is a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox, are downloaded by approximately 5% of global internet users. While there are plenty of statistics and information to gather regarding this update, it is clear that Apple and other tech companies are telling advertisers to find better ways of engaging consumers without interrupting their mobile experience.
How will this affect publishers?
Publishers who make majority of their revenue from advertisements are undoubtedly scrambling to discover how they can react before the update takes place. That being said, ad-blocking technology has been around for quite some time on the desktop side, and learning from desktop developments should be strongly considered to offset the update. Publishers should also begin to educate consumers regarding advertising’s role in providing content. Without ads, the free content they are permitted to consume would not exist. Paywalls would become more prevalent, and while the content readership is increasing on mobile devices, communication regarding the importance of advertising should be delivered. Another option for publishers who rely on mobile ad revenue would be to sign on with Apple News, where ads can still be shown through the aforementioned iAd. Although Apple takes approximately a 30% cut of ads that it sells on behalf of the publisher, it may help offset the issue if the ad-blocking technology prohibits their revenue stream.
Overall, this update should have a large effect on the mobile advertising industry. Specifically, publishers, advertisers and agencies will need to have a full understanding of the update and how to become more creative in engaging with potential consumers.