Confirming the worst fears of publishers and other app developers, ad blockers are flying off the virtual shelves of Apple’s App Store.
This comes on the heels of Apple releasing a new version of its mobile operating system, iOS 9, which for the first time allowed for ad-blocking capabilities on iPhones and iPads.
Now, ad blockers have taken top spots on the App Store, according to rankings on AppAnnie, AppAdvice, and iTunes.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. While its methodology has been challenged, a recent study about ad blocking conducted by Adobe and Pagefair concluded that ad blockers are costing publishers $21.8 billion this year. (That Pagefair promises to help publishers "restore blocked ad inventory" didn’t lend the research any additional legitimacy.)
Whatever the real damages are, it’s surely enough to disrupt publishers’ already tenuous transition to the mobile Web.
In response, the IAB is considering a number of strategies, from getting the top 100 sites to block users using ad blockers to suing the pants off ad blockers.
In addition, perhaps the industry could appeal directly to consumers -- who don’t seem to appreciate the business models that support their favorite publications. According to a recent survey of roughly 2,000 British adults by Teads, consumers just don’t realize how detrimental ad blockers can be to publishers’ bottom lines.
Of course, that’s assuming that consumers would care.
This column was previously published in Moblog on September 18, 2015.