“When Apple unveils its new iPhone and iOS 9 operating system this week, it could also drop a bomb on publishers by opening the door to ad-blocking technology on its massively popular mobile devices.”
That’s the take from Lauren Johnson writing for AdWeek, who explains that “with Apple’s new tools, developers can build ad-blocking apps that consumers can download to wipe out ads on mobile sites when using Apple’s built-in Safari browser.”
Run-of-the-mill ads like banners and display placements have always been an easy-do for ad blocking services.
However, a small test by Adweek of a handful of apps shows that these remove native and branded content, too — jeopardizing the business model of many publishers at the forefront of native advertising. We’re talking about publishers like BuzzFeed, Business Insider, Forbes, and The Atlantic — not your run-of-the-mill publishers.
“This is the absolute beginning of what I think is going to be a long and passionate debate. Reputable publishers are going to say, ‘Hey, this is interesting content, people want to read it, so you shouldn’t block it the same way as an ad,'” said Rebecca Lieb, an analyst who covers digital marketing and media.
The basic problem is this: Though marketers create articles and videos that look like editorial content, they are channeled through ad networks (so advertisers can glean data about how campaigns perform). This raises the “it’s an ad” flag for blockers.
“Ad blockers then assume that the sponsored content is a garden-variety ad and remove it from the page,” explains Johnson. “That’s a blow for publishers that have eyed sponsored content as a lucrative alternative to mobile banners that have been deemed ineffective by agencies and brands for years.”
Could it put a dent in native advertising, forecast to bring in $4.3 billion in ad dollars this year, according to eMarketer?
“Should ad blocking become materially greater, we’re going to have to figure out a different way to serve native content and report to our advertisers about that content,” said Peter Spande, Business Insider’s chief revenue officer. “We don’t know how bad it will be — we’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.”