The tech press has been awash with articles about Apple’s views on ad blockers, and how they’re now more than happy for Safari to run them. This revelation - depending on the news source you read - is either going to destroy the advertising industry, or have a relatively minimal impact.
Ad blocking services on mobile aren’t anything new. According to Adobe, 144 million people have already installed ad blocking services on their phone. Earlier this month, ad blocking activists, Shine, took out a large advert in the Financial Times claiming that consumers were effectively subsidizing the industry through the mobile data wasted uploading adverts. This has increased public awareness of the issue, and made anti advertising sentiment shoot through the roof.
There is, however, a lot of hot air around the idea that Apple’s recent approval of ad blocking will lead to a full blown meltdown for the advertising industry. That’s because the real battleground will be blocking adverts within apps - where we spend the majority of our time - not on mobile browsers. Figures from eMarketer state that mobile browsers account for just 25% of ad spend, with in-app a lofty 75%.
Even though two apps - Peace and Purify Blocker - are sitting near the top of the iOS paid apps chart, AOL, for example, stated that they had yet to see any noticeable traffic declines. According to the Washington Post, sites which rely on younger, tech-savvier audiences are likely to be most affected. Evolve Media’s President, Brian D. Fitzgerald, who presides over a number of media publications with varying audiences, feels that Crave Online is at the most risk due to its younger readership. In response to a question about the type of person which was most likely to use ad-blockers, he stated: ‘it’s definitely your German, 24-year-old, hard-core gamer’ and that ‘Your mommy blogger is not on the bleeding edge like that.’
Although recent revelations have strengthened the position of those who feel that users should have the option to bypass mobile adverts, the effect of Apple’s announcement that Safari is going to run ad-blockers is unlikely to be of too much concern for publishers in the short-term. As mentioned before, for revenues to be really hit, adverts within apps will also need to run blockers, and that, for the time being, doesn’t seem to be on the horizon.
If public pressure has the desired impact, however, the industry will have to adapt. And for that reason, it’s a good idea for publishers to start formulating a plan B.