Content blocking in iOS9 to disrupt the advertising business – and Google
Apple iOS9 is being released into the wild this week. It has a rather nasty little surprise in it for Google (and advertisers) – ad blocking. Neatly, so as to avoid unfair practice criticisms Apple has built a software development kit into the new version of the iOS operating system for iPhones and iPads -allowing independent software developers to implement the blocking of display ads in the Safari browser.
This development won’t affect app vendors like Facebook who can sell any ads they want to within their own apps but will affect web access to normal sites – like Google. Using Google on iOS brings up results pages (SERPS) dominated by Google Adwords – check out this screenshot for a view of a search for car insurance. If those ads are blocked by Apples Safari browser then Google can’t make money from the ads. And that’s a big problem for them. Equally – mobile is the fastest growing channel for marketing so it also presents a serious challenge to marketers.
Here’s the actual text from the Apple Developer Library: “The new Safari release brings Content Blocking Safari Extensions to iOS. Content Blocking gives your extensions a fast and efficient way to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other content.”
Apple will state they are enabling ad blocking for a “cleaner and less cluttered user experience” – which is handy as they don’t make money from carrying advertising. This “cleaner experience” will be very attractive to users and could well increase iOS market share against Google Android (the Google OS that powers nearly all of the rest of the market). So if you can’t afford Apple kit you’re going to go for Android kit and be bombarded by ads from Google. Not a nice user experience. In fact it’s a little worse than that. If a user can only afford an Android phone they are less likely to be attractive to premium brands so that sector of ad revenue will be diminished for Google as well.
Oh, and there’s another little problem for Google. The widely used Google Analytics will not be able to report on traffic and usage profiles from iOS devices where developers have blocked tracking. For Google advertising customers it’s a nightmare – they won’t be able to see their own web site usage data. . .
The mobile ad sector is the fastest growing of all advertising sectors and is expected to reach $100 billion in the next few years. Not any more it’s not.
I bet AOL are regretting this move already…