Ad-blocking apps on iOS 9 rile web publishers

23 Sep 2015


Software that block ads on mobile devices gadgets have raised the hackles of web publishers.

Apple enabled ad-blocking apps only two days back on its new mobile operating system, iOS 9, to a massive welcome from users.

The technology answers the prayers of users who had long complained that the ads tracked them, slowed down web browsers and were just plain annoying.

Within 48 hours a number of ad-blocking apps with names like Peace, Purify and Crystal had made it to the top of Apple's App Store chart.

However, web publishers have now begun complaining that ads on their sites could not be  viewed because of the blockers, which could threaten their existence.

On Friday, the maker of the $3 ad-blocking app Peace, Marco Arment, removed his program from the App Store and offered refunds, saying that while stopping ads did "benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don't deserve to be hit."

According to commentators, the about-face highlighted the complexities around the publishing and ethics of ad blocking.

Meanwhile, those who would lose from ad-blocking had issued dire warnings about its economic impact. According to their figures, over $40 billion would be lost by way of revenue globally by next year.

But Apple's update had only served to make mainstream what was already a growing existential threat to any publisher hoping advertising online would support their business.

Research from Sourcepoint and comScore revealed that one in 10 people were blocking ads on desktops and laptops before the Apple update, rising to around a quarter in Germany and France.

Furthermore, ad blocking was most prevalent among younger and wealthier people, those most desired by advertisers. Blocking on mobiles was lower everywhere except India and China, and in the UK it was just 00.1 per cent, but the update could change that rapidly.

The trend mirrored a truth even most publishers would admit - online ads (and the accompanying bits of computer code that slowed down page loading) were annoying and it was just now users had a way to do something about it.

''Most media companies have become desperate and they've thrown in more ads and more data collectors to eke out more pennies and we've had our fill,'' The Guardian quoted open web advocate and media commentator Jeff Jarvis.

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