iOS 9 Ad Blocking Could Alter Internet Commerce - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Applications
Commentary
9/1/2015
01:05 PM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Commentary
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iOS 9 Ad Blocking Could Alter Internet Commerce

Whether it's a cynical move or not, Apple's upcoming release of iOS 9 can give users the ability to block ads on a mobile browser. This is a serious concern for online advertisers.

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10 Handy iPhone Apps Worth Downloading
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As Apple prepares to release iOS 9 -- the company's latest version of its mobile operating system -- later this month to coincide with what many believe is the debut of the iPhone 6s, one feature that is built into the new version of iOS is getting a lot of attention for its disruptive potential to the current economic model of the Internet.

That feature is content blocking for the Safari browser. This brings what has been called "ad blocking" on desktop browsers to the mobile browser. While this behavior is not enabled by default, the new APIs give developers a way to extend the mobile browsers so that they do block content.

Content blocking is more far-reaching than just ads. As Apple notes in the developer library for Safari 9: "Content Blocking gives your extensions a fast and efficient way to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other content."

(Image: Ellica_S/iStockphoto)

(Image: Ellica_S/iStockphoto)

That means that the scripts and tricks that websites use to obtain user information can also be blocked. The tools publishers use, such as Parse.ly or Google Analytics, can also be blocked along with the ads that are served against that data.

Indeed, Apple introduced the "beforeload" routine to the open sourced WebKit used by Chrome. In addition, true blocking that does not even download these resources has been available in Chrome since Version 5 of Google's browser. It's not just for Safari anymore.

Apple has said its goals are to speed up the loading time of Web content on devices. Some have wondered if Apple is simply trying to kneecap Google and others that serve up ads to websites, a business in which it is not involved.

The Apple iAd service only runs within apps. (I'll have more on that in a moment.)

The counter-revolution has already begun.

Ben Barokas is the CEO of Sourcepoint, which helps publishers deal with content blocking. The company provides a platform that "gives users a choice on how they compensate a publisher for their content," Barokas told InformationWeek.

"Users need to opt-in to either advertising or subscription or some combination of the two. We provide the technical platform that gives publishers a way to talk to their users about how they want to compensate the publisher."

[Read why the iPhone is so profitable for Apple.]

Sourcepoint measures ad blocking, and provides information to ad serving systems about what a user will or will not do, according to Barokas. By making an ad look like the content on the site, content blocking can be mitigated by forcing the user to allow the ad or not see any of the site content.

Another way to bypass blocking is to provide content within your own app. Content blocking works within a browser environment as an extension of that browser, but currently does not work inside an app.

Remember where I noted iAd works only within apps? The more cynical among us will realize that Apple's actions will not affect its own business. It will, however, affect almost everyone else’s.

Take that, Google.

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek. He has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet ... View Full Bio
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Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
9/10/2015 | 2:14:07 PM
Re: ad block
@LarryLoeb I like the fact that they're looking into it, exploring possibilities,  and not just making it an either/or proposition for readers.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/10/2015 | 1:58:53 PM
Re: ad block
Well, they--along with a lot of publishers--got to do something, don't they?
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
9/10/2015 | 1:53:42 PM
Re: ad block
@larryloeb The Washington Post is trying to figure that out. See http://www.buzzfeed.com/matthewzeitlin/the-washington-post-begins-blocking-ad-blockers#.ftKnmdnlO

"Many people already receive our journalism for free online, with digital advertising paying only a portion of the cost," a Washington Post spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.

"Without income via subscriptions or advertising, we are unable to deliver the journalism that people coming to our site expect from us. We are currently running a test using a few different approaches to see what moves these readers to either enable ads on The Washington Post, or subscribe."
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/7/2015 | 3:50:05 PM
Re: ad block
Apple wont directly block ads, they will provides the APIs for others to do so.

But consider this. If you stop ads that you will ignore anyway, you also stop advertisers from being charged for them since they are never delivered to you browser.

This makes ads more efficient and cost less for the advertiser.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
9/7/2015 | 11:08:53 AM
Re: ad block
I will definitely upgrade to iOS9 once it's available. I want to be an efficient IT worker instead of being bothered by online Ads from time to time.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/2/2015 | 1:24:55 PM
Re: ad block
All very good points.

People can choose how they want to view.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/2/2015 | 1:23:26 PM
Re: ad block
I don't want anyone to "protect" me from that.

I want the freedom to waste my time as i see fit.

When someone else decides what a waste of time is--even if they are correct-- I get honked off,

Your mileage may vary.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
9/2/2015 | 1:07:45 PM
Re: ad block
Just on this topic: Hulu announced it would offer ad-free shows for a slightly higher (under $20) subscription rate.  As reported in Ad Age, they spin this as a positive thing for advertisers, for the same reason I've mentioned: people are not receptive to ads that are foisted on them against their own inclination. ""People who avoid ads at all costs were never going to do business with Hulu to begin with, so now we have an entry point to them," Mr. Naylor said. And it can now sell advertisers on the notion that the people who access its ad-supported service will typically be more receptive to their ads -- because those less tolerant of ads have filtered themselves out.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2015 | 12:57:46 PM
Re: ad block
Well, maybe "protected" is too harsh a word. I meant protected in the sense of not having ones time wasted.
JoshauCouture
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JoshauCouture,
User Rank: Strategist
9/2/2015 | 7:55:08 AM
Re: ad block
Apple has always been a front runner in smart phone industry, but by this move it will make the internet industry very furious, and specially google whose main income comes from these ads will suffer most, and this will place apple and google in a tricky situation.
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