Will Apple’s iOS 9 adblocker kill mobile ads?

With online privacy becoming a growing global concern, adblocking has risen in popularity among consumers over the past couple of years. To date, adblocking has largely been confined to desktop, but this week it comes to mobile with the release of iOS 9, which will come with integrated options for Content (read ‘advertising’) Blocking built-in.


The issue of online privacy is not just about brands seeing what consumers are up to online; people are also concerned about their family knowing what they are doing online. Predictably, this is largely about pornography. According to Thinkbox research last year in the UK, 16-34s now spend 15 minutes a day watching porn and don’t want to reveal this private browsing behaviour.


But it is the issue of advertising personalisation, targeting and retargeting that concerns our industry, and various desktop tools and systems have emerged to counter these activities. ZenithOptimedia’s recent research with GlobalWebIndex across 34 markets and 200,000 panellists highlights the take-up of privacy products:


1. Almost half the global internet population (46 per cent) has used ‘private browsing’

2. 40 per cent have deleted cookies so that websites can’t track their behaviour

3. 27 per cent have used an adblocker so that brands can’t track and serve personalised advertising

4. 15 per cent have used anti-tracking software that combines all three of the above into one.


So, adblocking is a clear issue for our industry. iOS 9 will enable people to switch on adblocking at the device level. The effect though will be to block ads that appear within the browser. As well as keeping a person’s mobile web activities private, mobile adblocking will have the added twofold benefit of speeding up page-load times (important on mobile) and reducing data charges (even more important).


Understandably there is much consternation among the advertising fraternity, particularly on the publisher side. However the concern is somewhat misplaced, certainly from a marketer’s perspective. The reason for this is that the majority of mobile adblockers will work on mobile browsers but not in-app. And 84 per cent of mobile time spent is in-app (source: Flurry). With that in mind the initial impact of iOS9 will be limited. In the longer term, though, we see the impact of iOS9 Content Blocking being threefold:


1. It will accelerate the demise of the mobile web banner. This no bad thing and it is frankly surprising that the banner (a legacy format of the desktop environment) ever made its way onto mobile devices in the first place.


2. It will accelerate the growth of native in-app mobile advertising (e.g. newsfeed advertising). This advertising is by definition integrated with the user interface and therefore a better experience, generally yielding better results for advertisers too. We have adjusted our spend forecasts based on the Apple announcement: native to represent 25 per cent of display advertising by 2017 globally (source: ZenithOptimedia).


3. As a result of points 1 and 2, the creative/production process will need to adapt to take account of the rise of native formats and the move away from standardised formats.


DISCLAIMER: The author of this article is ZenithOptimedia chief digital officer. The article has been sourced from ZenithOptimedia’s website. The views expressed here are purely personal views of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to them.

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