In preparation for the latest IPhone release this week Apple has launched their latest operating system update “IOS 9”. The software update is now available for latest Apple models and existing devices. One of the controversial new features which is particularly interesting to advertisers includes support for third party ad blocking apps which can block PPC and display media ads.
The new update will enable users to download third party ad blocking apps which will integrate with safari and allow users to block ads within their mobile web browser. The new tools will also allow users to prevent websites from tracking their online browsing behaviour which is often crucial to advertiser’s ad targeting decisions. Apple hopes that by allowing users to block ads, flash content and tracking scripts this will help to improve user experience by increasing load times and interference.
Ad blocking tools are already widely adopted across desktop devices with the most popular desktop ad blocking tool “Ad Blocker” exceeding 300 million global downloads. 6% of global internet users and 20% of UK internet users already have desktop ad blocking tools installed according to a recent Adobe and Page Fair survey. Ad blocking is increasing rapidly with an 82% increase in desktop ad blocking in the UK market last year.
Many people within the advertising industry have suggested that Apple is introducing this feature to challenge other advertising giants such as Google and Facebook. Many have suggested that this is an attempt to further promote the release of their own advertising formats (Apple IAds). Although the advertising platform has integrated with several DSP’s Apple IAds aren’t currently widely adopted across the market. The latest move will most likely increase the adoption of IAds by limiting the impact of external ad formats.
The latest announcement has left many advertisers worried about the performance of their paid media campaigns on mobile. It’s important to understand the scale of the latest update and how this will impact mobile advertising. Although the latest update could limit advertising opportunities the scale of this is limited.
Has the latest update been over exaggerated? The impact of the update is much smaller than initially suggested. One reason for this is that ads will not be blocked on apple devices by default and users will need to download a third party app and enable ad blocking before using the feature. The number of people who will choose to do this is much smaller as is the case with ad blocking software on desktop devices.
Also notably 85% of time spent on mobile devices is spent in-app. The new ad blocking apps will only be able to prevent ads from showing on mobile-web which makes up just a small percentage of mobile advertising inventory, with the majority of mobile ads served in-app. The latest update will also only impact Apple’s default web browser Safari. Ad blocking on IOS won’t be available on other browsers which will limit the overall impact, with safari’s mobile browser market share at just 41%.
The latest updated has angered many publishers who rely heavily on mobile ad revenue. Several publishers are looking to challenge ad blocking software. This includes a number of actions with new ad formats such as native adverts which are less intrusive and harder to block. Some publisher are also looking to introduce content blocking software which limits access to content for users with ad blocking software installed to protect their revenue streams.