Ad blocking a go by Apple
For the first time, Apple is calling for developers to design ad blocking software compatible for their Safari mobile web browser on the new iOS 9 smartphone. Apple unveiled the new phone at the Worldwide Developers Conference this week, but the announcement about ad blocking software was hidden deep within the documentation released after the conference was over.
Ad blocking software has been available for a long time for use on personal computers. But these days, more and more users take care of their online business on mobile phones and tablets, and Apple wants to improve the user experience by allowing users to download software which will block many online ads.
Why would Apple do this? Follow the money
However, Apple may have other motivations besides helping customers encounter fewer ads. By allowing ad blocking, Apple may outcompete other companies or make it more challenging for other brands to reach customers. The Interactive Advertising Bureau says that ad blocking software has already become so popular that it may seriously compromise the ability of online content creators to make money. Google is already estimated to be losing billions of dollars in profits because of ad blocking extensions; after initially attempting to block AdBlock Plus, Google ended up paying the service to ensure that their ads would make it past the software.
By offering ad blocker as an option on its mobile devices, Apple stands to change the game for other sites and brands that rely heavily on ads to generate revenue. Most websites, such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc. rely almost entirely on ad revenue to stay afloat. Meanwhile Apple pulls most of its profits from their hardware. According to Wired, “content creators dependent on ads to stay afloat may be forced to play along with Apple.” Content creators may have little choice but to partner with Apple to access customers.
Smaller brands will suffer the most
Tech experts predict that large businesses and publishers will be relatively unaffected if Apple starts offering an ad blocking extension for mobile devices. That’s because users will still have to know about, find, download, and install the blocking app, which many users won’t bother to do. Also, major publishers, although heavily dependent on ads for revenue, aren’t pulling many profits from mobile users anyway. While most readers use a mobile device to read the New York Times online, the news publisher still draws only 10 percent of its revenue from mobile users.
Unfortunately, it is likely that smaller businesses will suffer the most. Small companies could lose revenue if their ads are consistently blocked, and they lack the connections and prestige to gain partnerships with third parties such as Apple.