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Apple to let iPhone users block ads

By Seb Joseph | News editor

June 11, 2015 | 3 min read

The latest software update for Apple’s iPhone will let users block ads from appearing on the device as the technology firm looks to tighten its grip on mobile advertising revenue.

Apple’s updated web browser includes developer support to make cookies, images, scripts and other unwanted content – in other words ads – disappear. All a user would have to do is install an app with the right extensions and they can wave goodbye to ads that appear while they’re browsing content.

The feature is already available on the Mac version of the browser and its arrival on mobile comes at a time of heightened interest in the controversial ad blocking practice. Publishers have tried to legally challenge the use of ad blockers, which they see as a threat to advertising revenues, and telecoms operators want to harness the software to wrestle back more control of mobile media.

The plan was tucked away in the developer notes for the latest version of Safari with Apple opting not to publicise it at its developer conference earlier this week.

While the company’s motivations remain unclear, the decision to allow ad blocking on its mobile devices comes as it looks to generate revenues from its own iAd formats via its News app. It could also be an attempt to combat Google and Facebook who both been allowed to amass ad revenues from iOS devices.

Ad blocking software has been around for several years. However, the advent of mobile advertising has thrust it into the spotlight and turned it into a potential key factor in determining who comes out on top in the battle for revenues between media owners and technology firms.

Much is dependant on the take-up of software like AdBlock Plus, which German courts have ruled is not yet big enough to be a threat to publishers.

Global mobile ad spend is tipped to hit $100bn and account for more than 50 per cent of all digital ad spend for the first time in 2016, according to eMarketer.

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