Mobile Advertising & Ad-Blocking War Intensifies

Mobile Ad Blocking WarA 2015 Reuters Institute digital news report found significant consumer dissatisfaction with online advertising, expressed through the rapid take up of ad blockers and disquiet over the blurring lines between editorial and advertising. Reuters found that 47% of a US sample and 39% of a UK sample used ad-blocking technology, and the IAB has similarly found 34% of US adults use ad blockers.

Eyeo’s popular desktop ad blocker has been on the market since 2006 and has gained as much as ~40% market enetration in the US. It reports >400m total downloads of its software. Ad blockers for desktop advertising do pose a threat to the digital marketing industry if advertisers shy away from marketing on websites knowing that a large portion of their ads won’t be seen.

Ad Blocking on Mobile SmartPhones
Smaller screen sizes on mobile and poor battery life means mobile ad-blocking may appear to have an even greater up-take rate than desktop. It therefore seems to be a threat to mobile advertising – but there is a big difference between browser-based and in-app ads, where ad blockers are unlikely to be feasible due to privacy infringement rights. Ad blocking is less a threat as in-app ads account for ~80% of the total $50bn global mobile ad market, and standards dictate that ad blockers cannot interfere with other apps.

Mobile ad-blocking browsers are in essence the same approach as desktop ad blocking: the user simply has to download an ad-blocking browser. The launch of iOS9 brings ad blocking (or “content” blocking as described by Apple) to Apple’s mobile web browser, Safari. Users can download an ad-blocking app such as Crystal, which will in turn block ads from Safari once this functionality has been enabled in the iOS settings. Eyeo has also developed an ad-blocking browser for mobile.

In-app ad-blocking via data packet inspection appears to be the only route to blocking in-app advertising. This necessitates the network provider having access to a user’s data traffic and would thus likely infringe privacy rights. Data packet inspection is yet to be commercially launched successfully as a form of mobile ad blocking but could be the method adopted by Shine, an Israeli ad-blocking start-up whose shareholders include Horizon Ventures – the investment fund of Li Ka-shing.

Google’s Doubleclick the leading Ad Network for Publishers let them Publish abnormally high 5+ Ads / Page which kills the user experience and this is the primary reason Users cited in their Vote on why they are using Ad Blocking Software – “Limit Visual Clutter” and “Speed Up Browsing” [Source: murphyapps.co]. Hopefully, someone from Google Ads team is reading this article and make necessary changes.

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