Ad Blocking Is Coming to Mobile Safari

Apple Enables Changes to the Mobile Ad Milieu

Safari_lThe numbers vary from study to study, but it’s clear that the use of ad-blocking software is on the rise — stats from Reuters, for example, indicate that almost 40% of UK users block advertisements. Free desktop applications and browser extensions that thwart Internet ads are posing a threat to the ad industry, forcing alternatives and new business models.

Ad blocking has been a PC-based phenomenon to date. Smartphone and tablet users have had limited options to avoid ads, but this is changing. In December 2014, CCS Insight wrote about the growing disruption from ad-blocking behaviour, and the temporary immunity on mobile (see Daily Insight: The Ad-Block Arms Race).

Apple and Google have mostly barred the blockers from their mobile app stores, but now an API from Apple supports a “fast and efficient way to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other content”. The notion that Apple is enabling mobile ad-blocking in iOS is a disconcerting market change — the safety zone of mobile browsing is disappearing.

Content-blocking within mobile Safari could mean that iOS apps reliant on advertisements receive a windfall benefit. Ads via apps will have a sudden advantage and attraction to advertisers: browser ads can be blocked, but those in third-party apps remain visible. This will be of particular benefit to Facebook, which has a number of mobile apps.

We expect that a growing number of content owners will move to depend on ad revenue from apps rather browsers. The trend could counter the potential of browser-based ecosystems, despite the recent completion of HTML 5.

The app economy has been given a boost — more ad dollars will be funnelled through apps, and publishers will need to recognise the growing importance of this business model. As part of a trend we’ve termed “appification“, CCS Insight believes that more companies across industry sectors will need to interact with users through smart device apps. Priorities are changing, and Web versions may act merely as introductions to feature-rich mobile apps. Apple is accelerating appification.

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