Welcome to Overthrow Digital's blog where we share our thoughts and ramblings on anything and everything to do with the world of digital communications.
Written by:
Joachim Treasurer

What does Apple's new adblocker plugin on Safari for mobile mean for advertisers?

While it might not have got a huge mention during Apple’s key note announcement ahead of their annual event on Wednesday (9th September), the news that Safari on iOS9 will feature adblocking software could be the most significant news to come out of last week’s developments.

In case you missed it, Apple have announced that the new Safari release will bring content blocking to Safari extensions on iOS9. Put in layman’s terms, you will now be able to download an app extension that blocks cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other content.

Now, adblocking is not a hugely revolutionary piece of software in the grand scheme of things. It has been available for years on devices such as Google Chrome on desktop computers and laptops. In 2014 over 140 million people blocked ads worldwide, including 41 percent of 18 to 30 year olds. However, up until now it hasn’t been available on tablets on mobile devices. In the increasingly lucrative world of mobile advertising you can see why come as quite a shock. So how could these developments affect the the mobile advertising industry?

To ascertain the answer to this question, we firstly need to look at the reasons why users of iPhone’s may decide to install the adblocker app.

Aside from the stigma that pop up ads on websites such as news sites have, it is likely that the enhancements to the performance of the users device is actually going to be the main reason behind people deciding to download the app extension. By blocking pop ups cookies and the rest, the speed in which content and websites loads will be quickened as well as the battery life of the device. The biggest factor, however, is that not only is it free but it will save the users data, which basically translates to money.

Potentially the most worrying of all is that Apple is explicitly allowing the blocking of cookies on a site-by-site basis. Essentially, you could build an extension that blocked the cookies that allow a newspaper paywall to work. For example, you could download an extension that blocked paywall cookies on the top 50 paid news sites, meaning that every time you visit one of those sites you’re a fresh visitor. This has the potential to completely throw the stats that marketers hold so valuable right up in the air.

However, advertisers and publishers will not be completely quaking in their boots and this must be looked at in context. On average, large brands have around 50 per cent of their audience online, however they tend to only generate around 10 per cent of their digital advertising revenue on mobile. Many aren’t even at 10 per cent. It does still beg the question, where is the growth going to come from, and more importantly, how are they going to do it if users, especially the hugely influential ,tech savvy 18 to 30 year old can simply block their ads, pop ups and cookies with a simple free app?

Of course, much of this is speculation. It still remains to be seen exactly what the ramifications and results of this new development in the mobile advertising industry has for advertisers, marketers and publishers but the early indications and opinions are that the industry as a whole will have a great deal of adapting to do.

Overthrow Digital 6-8 Bonhill Street Workers League - Floor 2 EC2A 4BX London United Kingdom