Apple iOS9 opens door to ad blockers – is this a play to get a stronghold on the mobile advertising space?

AvrillOvernight Apple launched iOS9, which allows ad blocking software that could be a potential nightmare for digital advertisers. However, Avrill D’Costa argues this could be part of a broader play by the tech giant aimed at moving publishers to its content distribution platform.

Digital marketers and publishers around Australia quite possibly laid awake last night in anticipation of Apple’s 2am product launch.

It’s not that they were excited about the tech company’s new offering. It’s rather the frightening suggestion that Apple would support ad-blocking applications on its new mobile operating system, iOS9, which are potentially a digital marketer’s worst nightmare.

The move will likely be applauded by consumers around Australia.

Back in June, it was reported that up to 1 million Australian consumers use ad-blocking software. A story last month revised that figure up to as high 4m. You don’t have to be a statistician to see the trend here.

io09This decision may put the nail in the coffin for publishers and web services who rely solely on display advertising as a key source of revenue. Online publishers are trying to diversify. For instance, companies like Junkee Media and Buzzfeed have thrown their weight behind the rise of native content marketing.

Earlier this year, Junkee Media declared that half of their income is generated from this form of advertising. But it would be foolish to rule out the impact of display advertising on any publisher or service’s bottomline. It is still the cornerstone of their digital revenue.

You could argue that Apple’s move to simply allow ad blocking on its iOS platform is forcing disruption on the ad industry. Publishers and services will now have to adapt, be it through relying more heavily on subscriptions or other forms of advertising. As Google CEO Larry Page told Business Insider: “Part of it is the industry needs to do better at producing ads that are less annoying, and that are quicker to load, and all those things. And I think we need to do a better job of that as an industry.”

There’s also a question as to whether the move will push advertisers back towards more traditional, but unblockable, forms of ads.

While Apple is apparently hurting the industry with one announcement, it is rewarding it with another.

Apple’s new News app is a win for publishers and advertisers in Australia. It’s following the same playbook as Facebook and LinkedIn in creating a service that enhances the usability and accessibility of news articles for users.

But it’s still unclear as to how advertising will work on Apple’s new News app. And there is also the potential that Apple’s ad-blocking play is simply a means of paving the way for its incoming iAd service to clip the ticket on publisher content.

Apple’s iAds was deemed to be one of Apple’s biggest failures as a company. At launch, Apple CEO Tim Cook told reporters that it was posted to capture up to 50 per cent of the mobile ad market. It made up just 2.5 per cent of total mobile ad revenue in the US last year.

Perhaps this is the only way for Apple to get a stronghold on the mobile advertising space and to disrupt the current state of play, thereby moving publishers to Apple’s content distribution platform.

Avrill D’Costa is a co-founder and the head of data analytics and product design at BigDatr


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