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November 17, 2015

Is content blocking sending banner ads the way of the dinosaurs?

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By Brian McCartney, Senior Digital Designer

Will Apple’s announcement of ad-blocking extensions for iOS 9 an OS X mean the death of the banner ad as we know it? Because these extensions will allow developers to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups and other content, many marketers and publishers believe that advertising content on Apple’s mobile devices will come to an end. This is a huge blow just as the promise of HTML5 advertising was being realized in place of Flash, which is being eliminated by most Web browsers due to security and performance concerns.

Why Apple, why? Its answer: abusive ad-serving content delivery networks, the desire to aggressively track viewers and delivering bigger and bigger video ad units. Some web pages with a short text article can weigh as much as 15Mb, so it’s no wonder people think their phones are slow or that their monthly data usage overages were a mistake. Apple took the position that the the extra content was making their products look bad, so they empowered their users to improve their online experience.

Is this the end of mobile display ads? Probably not. But it will make more of an impact for some publishers and advertisers than others. Current estimates say that iOS counts for more than 60% of mobile internet traffic and that 15-45% of iPhone and iPad users will employ the blocking option. So viewing ad serving rates could drop as much as 11% for mobile.

Is there a way around ad blockers? Sometimes. Mobile applications are immune to ad blocking so Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others won’t see a change. Native advertising will also bypass the blockers, and there are already several companies working on methods to circumvent them. But in the short term, mobile display will suffer.

Now what? Options for native advertising, new media models and initiatives are being accelerated such as Earned Media and will become more readily available. Whew.