Ad-blocking in iOS9 is bad news for mobile advertisers


Announced in early June at its Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple is set to launch iOS9 this fall. The new operating system will come with an update to the Safari browser that lets mobile users block all ads. Since the news broke, they have caused much uproar among mobile advertisers and the ad industry in general.

iOS9 adds ad-blocking on Safari

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So far, ad-blocking has been largely restricted to desktops. This would be the first time, it would be running directly on mobile devices. However, a report from PageFair and Adobe found that the number of people using ad-blocking software increased by 69% over a 12-month period between 2013 to 2014 to 144m active ad-block users. Consumers are clearly interested in using ad-blockers. Some view the move as a major stab against Google and Facebook, both of which make a majority of their revenues from advertising. Understandably, the industry fears that web publishers and ad-tech companies could be driven out of business through Apple’s move. Google loses 10% of annual revenue to ad-blockers already, according to PageFair. Advertisements power the free web and are necessary for content such as videos and news to remain free of charge.

However, the addition will be welcomed by end users, who have grown tired of being bombarded with ads across their devices. The feature is likely to become very popular. Tim Bajarin, Analyst at Creative Strategies finds:


“Consumers have shown that they only want ads and extensions they really are interested in and not sent to them out of context. They play a role in the overall tech ecosystem, so Apple needs to make it easy for people to opt in or opt out. Apple is mainly responding to the demands of consumers who only want things they really care about.”

Despite the negative effects the restriction may have on the ad industry, Brian Pitz, Analyst at Jefferies, remains positive. He writes

“This will not be all-out ad blocking on Apple devices. First, the user has to be using Safari on an Apple device. Second, the user has to opt-out of ads. Third, the opt-out process will likely be granular, with individual settings to block specific types of ad formats like pop-ups, pre-rolls, and so forth. In a worst case scenario, this is Apple against the entire mobile publisher and advertiser ecosystem; not Criteo itself. If browsers start negatively impacting publishers’ abilities to monetize their mobile content, it may trigger a backlash where certain sites are “not optimized for use with Safari.”

Whilst ensuring its users are happy, Apple needs to be careful not to make enemies which could result in a boycott on Safari and ultimately a weakened experience for its customers.