Commentary

How iOS 9 Ad-Blocking Support Will Change The Mobile Marketing Landscape

Advertisers everywhere are on edge thanks to Apple’s September release of iOS 9—the first Apple operating system to support ad blocking in Safari. But why all the fuss?

It’s simple, really: Apple is a mobile giant, so its backing of ad blockers means widespread adoption of the technology is presumably close behind.

With access to iOS 9 ad-blocking apps, more than 700 million iPhone users can now block the ads that many people use to drive traffic and revenue to their businesses

And those users are taking advantage: One day after iOS 9 hit the market, an ad blocker topped the list of most downloaded apps.

Users seem quick to embrace mobile ad blockers because the apps eliminate interruptive ads and speed up page load times. But ad blockers do more than hide pesky display ads. They also interfere with sponsored content and user tracking—which is bad news for digital marketers.

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Ad blockers are no doubt here for the long haul, so marketers need to adapt and figure out how to coexist with this type of technology. Truthfully, a lot of marketers have already started thinking about different ways to display their messages for the mobile world.

How will marketers succeed in this age of mobile ad blocking? Here are four ways the landscape will shift to keep marketing messages in play on mobile devices:

1: Advertisers will limit use of overly intrusive ads.

The negativity surrounding online advertising is mostly directed at ads that pop up unexpectedly or forcibly impede a user’s browsing experience. Most people are OK with static ads or video ads that can be skipped at the user’s will, according to TapInfluence’s “The State of Ad Block 2015” e-book.

The e-book also indicates that less than 30% of people who use ad blockers are willing to view pop-ups, unskippable videos, or ads with automatic sound—making those types of ads the real motivation for downloading ad blockers. So what’s a marketer to do? Create ads that are simple, relevant, and tasteful.

2: Native advertising platforms will get a boost.

Native advertising is a great option for digital marketers looking to avoid negative impact from ad blockers. Ad-blocking apps hide ads on search engines and consumer websites, but they can’t touch native ads on social media sites. Plus, U.S. mobile users spend most of their smartphone time, per TechCrunch, on popular social apps, meaning social ad reach could be huge.

A benefit for consumers is that ads fit naturally into each platform, so users can go about their business without feeling bombarded by unwanted advertising. Facebook and Twitter have offered advertising options for several years, and Instagram opened up advertising for all businesses earlier this year.

3: Efforts to increase organic traffic will take center stage.

The rise of mobile ad blockers means content marketing is now more important than ever. Producing relevant, helpful content—like blog posts, e-books, and Webinars—will give you opportunities to show up in search engines without assistance from paid ads. Plus, you can share that content via social media and email to drive additional traffic to your site.

Content sharing allows you to reach consumers in a natural way, meaning users will be more open to receiving your message. And if your content is credible and informative, people will be more likely to return to your site in the future.

4: The role of mobile ad blockers will become more refined.

Mobile ad blocking is still relatively new, so the apps will likely change a bit over time. While many of the current blockers hide all ads and sponsored content, ad blockers of the future may function more like website crawlers to remove only spam advertisements.

The moral of the story? Marketers should focus on creating useful, relevant ads that don’t interrupt and damage users’ mobile browsing experience. As Teads says, advertisements should engage, not enrage, users.
1 comment about "How iOS 9 Ad-Blocking Support Will Change The Mobile Marketing Landscape".
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  1. Arthur Coleman from OnlineMatters, Inc., December 4, 2015 at 4:36 p.m.

    I agree with all your points.  However one thing that I want to clarify.  The issue of ad blocker downloads is way overplayed.  By four weeks after the launch of iOS9, the two major ad blockers - that represent ~90% of all downloads, were completely out of the top 100, with one of them below 600 per App Annie.  

    I have done a very detailed analysis on this issue that can be found here: https://marketing.acxiom.com/NA-Blog-Ad-Blocking-Point-of-View-Report-November-2015_MLP.html.  

    I'd be interested to know your feedback on what my research shows.  

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