Publishers' concerns over a loss in advertising revenue will have heightened with the rush of iOS users downloading ad blocking software as soon as it was made available.
Mobile advertising could be in for a huge hit as ad blocking software soars to the top of app charts worldwide following the launch of Apple’s latest operating system iOS 9.
Less than 24 hours after Apple made iOS 9 available, ad blocking apps such as Peace and Purify have taken the app store by storm as users install the web browser extensions as a means of speeding up browsing and preventing intrusive ads.
The UK app store chart has Peace, priced at £2.29, residing in the top spot on the same day as its launch. The app promises to “dramatically speed up web browsing by blocking mosts ads and privacy-invading trackers on web pages”. In the US Peace has also grabbed the number one spot while Purify has moved into number five.
Adblocking has been massively popular on desktop with most recent reports suggesting that around 150 million people use some form of it. The day one popularity of the apps suggests that the mobile versions could become even more widespread due to the nature of the app store’s charts which will serve as a far-reaching platform and the promise from developers to speed up browsing.
Publishers will be hugely concerned by the popularity of the apps given that many of them rely almost exclusively on advertising for revenue. A number of publishers have developed approaches to combat adblocking software such as the Washington Post, which began blocking users from reading its content if they are using the software. Four German publishers took Eyeo, the parent company of popular ad-blocker AdBlock Plus, attempted to sue earlier this year over the legality of the software, however the court ruled in favour of the software and said that it was not illegal.
Developer of the Peace app, Marco Arment, argued that “we shouldn’t feel guilty about this” because users are not given the opportunity to review the terms of the implied contract of viewing ads in exchange for content. He said that “as soon as we follow a link, our browsers load, execute, transfer, and track everything embedded by the publisher. Our data, battery life, time, and privacy are taken by a blank check with no recourse”.
Arment, who was the first employee of Tumblr and creator of the Instapaper app, put forth his views on how advertisers could approach the problem in his blog post. In it he says that blocking bad ads will lead to publishers being forced to adopt “better monetisation methods”, from selling adverts directly (and so cutting out the data-collecting middlemen) to collecting direct payments from readers.