Advertising Industry Challenged as Apple Supports Ad Blockers in iOS 9

Carl Weinschenk
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Mobile ad blocking is a controversial subject. Now, according to InformationWeek, statistics are available to more concisely frame the debate.

The site reported on recent testing done by The New York Times that pointed to the great differences in performance by sites with ad blockers on and off. The Times used software from Purify, Crystal and 1Blocker.

For instance, using Boston.com as a test target, the Times found that the home page was a fat 19.4 megabytes without the software engaged. When the ads were removed by Crystal or Purify, the download slimmed down to 4 MB. LTE network loading time was reduced from 39 seconds to eight seconds with use of the software. Another example: The home page of the Los Angeles Times was 5.7 MB with ads and 1.6 MB without. Loading time went from 11 seconds to four seconds.

The story added that some other “befores-and-afters” were not as dramatic.


Ad blocking, which is not new, is generating a lot of attention because it is supported in iOS 9, which was released on September 16. The Christian Science Monitor, in its story on the New York Times research, said that publishers of sites that run ads say ”almost unanimously that desktop and mobile ad-blocking threatens their existence.” The story adds that PageFair, a media firm based in Dublin, estimates that publishers will lose more than $22 billion in revenue this year due to ad blockers.

It seems the issue can be approached in a couple of ways. One is native advertising, which is the blending of content and ads in an “advertorial” style. These ads often are customized to the site on which they post. They can, however, be liable to ad-blocking technology, according to The Wall Street Journal, because they are posted across many websites via ad delivery technology, not through each site’s editorial content management system.

Mobile

The other approach is a bit more straightforward. Indeed, the results of the Times’ research may, in a way, be good news for advertisers because it makes the challenge stark. The generally dramatic results suggest that if ads are put on a diet, the original problems – slow loading and battery drain on mobile devices – would be ameliorated. If that happens, the technology could fade away and advertisers live happily ever after. InformationWeek’s Larry Loeb puts it this way:

These results may show the way out of the blocking conundrum for publishers. They must find a way to enable only light-weight ads, ones that will not impair load times or inflate the data size of their pages.

It is unclear, of course, how this will shake out. The answers should be important to IT and security personnel managing mobile users who depend to some extent upon consumer sites that carry advertising. Moreover, the mobile ads can contain malware or legitimate software that reveals sensitive information, such as an employee’s location. Thus, how this debate plays out is important. The support of ad blocking in iOS 9 will push the industry to seek solutions.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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