Apple iOS 9 Ad-Blocking: Boon or Bane?

Apple iOS 9
Image © Apple Inc.

Sep 16, 2015

With the recent introduction of its iOS 9, Apple intends to enhance the general mobile Web experience for the user. Incidentally, the giant’s most recent OS version, which it claims as the “world’s most advanced operating system”, is available starting today, September 16, 2015, as a free upgrade for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users.  With this release, the company has revamped its approach in order to make it faster, better-looking, more streamlined, easier to operate and what not.

However, while the giant’s intentions are no doubt noble, it may well end up affecting the overall experience.

Apple’s new OS release introduces 2 important new updates, which will be of great significance for publishers and news readers. These include the Apple News app and more importantly, ad-blocking support on iOS devices. Let us take a look at this new ad-blocking feature and how it could impact users and publishers alike.

iOS 9 Ad-Blocking: What is This?

Starting today, Apple will be introducing a new ad-blocking feature on its Safari mobile browser for iOS 9 devices. On paper, this proposition seems good enough for users, as it will speed up slow-loading Web pages; also getting rid of unnecessary commercials in the process. However, there is a lot more here than meets the eye.

There is nothing new about using extensions to filter out advertisements on a Webpage.

These add-ons basically work by blocking HTTP and HTTPS requests coming from a certain source address. They additionally block Flash content, so that animated ads are also filtered out. While all this sounds very nice, the concept of ad-blocking has so far been related to desktop PCs and not to mobile.


Downsides for Publishers and Developers

  • Adblock Plus, one of the most popular ad-block service providers, recently released a beta of a mobile Web browser for Android, also stating its intentions of creating a similar one for iOS as well. Apple’s announcement of this built-in feature, however, has thrown the company off guard.  
  • Ad-block services usually require software to work along with them. From the developers’ point of view, creating these software extensions for Safari never brought in much profit for them. Developers have so far provided these tidbits free of charge to users. Recognizing this, Apple too had offered developer tools free of charge. But all that is changing now, with the giant deciding to unify the Safari dev program with all the others. This means that they have to pay up a $99 per year in order to get access to those very tools that used to be available free of cost.
  • Companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other online ad networks, which make considerable revenue out of advertising, will be tremendously impacted by this new feature of iOS 9.
  • Ad-blockers will definitely have a negative impact on ad publishers, as they will no more be able to monetize their mobile Websites. Many of the smaller businesses are beginning to get concerned, as this new introduction could make it much harder for them to stay afloat in the business.

Apple’s Point of View

Apple obviously aims to encourage users to shift to using apps, instead of the mobile Web. The company reviews app apps before approving them for the App Store and gets a commission of those ads which are sold using its iAds service.

Of course, the fact remains that Android too supports ad-blocking. It definitely has its advantages, as it gives end-users a far better experience on the whole. The other thing to consider is that users increasingly prefer spending time on mobile apps, rather than on the mobile Web.

Ad publishers wanting to reach a wider audience would definitely benefit by entering that arena as well.

From Apple’s viewpoint, its News app could be beneficial for publishers, as it gives them an opportunity to retain full revenue for the ads they sell themselves. The company charges publishers 30 percent to help them sell ads and to offer a more streamlined, better-looking experience for its readers.

Who this Will Benefit

  • The ultimate winners in this deal will be end-users, who generally do not appreciate intrusive ads, especially on their mobile devices. They get to choose what they want or do not want to see.
  • The one to reap the greatest benefit here is Apple, which will get to monopolize on ads displayed within iOS apps, with the iAds service
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