Adblocking meets Apple: users can soon block ads on mobile and iPad

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 12 June 2015

Tech giant Apple has revealed that with its next iteration of iOS, users will be able to block ads across mobile and iPad.

A raft of announcements have come from Apple this week due to its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), however, this announcement was put in the developers document rather than being announced at its large keynote on Monday.

According to NiemanLab, the announcement that Apple users will be able to block ads on mobile and iPad in the document reads: “The new Safari release brings Content Blocking Safari Extensions to iOS. Content Blocking gives your extensions a fast and efficient way to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other content.

“Your app extension is responsible for supplying a JSON file to Safari. The JSON consists of an array of rules (triggers and actions) for blocking specified content. Safari converts the JSON to bytecode, which it applies efficiently to all resource loads without leaking information about the user’s browsing back to the app extension.

“Xcode includes a Content Blocker App Extension template that contains code to send your JSON file to Safari. Just edit the JSON file in the template to provide your own triggers and actions. The sample JSON file below contains triggers and actions that block images on webkit.org.”

This means that with the release of iOS 9 in the coming months, users will be able to download an extension from the Apple App Store which will block ads on most sites.

Adblocking is already a huge problem on desktop with the rise of adblocking costing upwards of $4 billion dollar in Australia alone, with more than 150 million people globally having adblocking code embedded in their web browsers. What's even more concerning is this figure from Adobe and PageFair is nearly a year old.

PageFair’s Dublin–based CEO Sean Blanchfield estimates Australian digital publishers could be losing up to $240 million in lost revenue annually, based on his updated numbers which show 16.5% of Australian internet users are not seeing ads at all when they’re online.

According to Adage The New York Times has more than 50% of its traffic coming from mobile, yet mobile contributes just 10% of digital ad revenue. Adblocking could see the dollars on mobile slow to catch-up to audience numbers simply because there is no guarantee people aren’t using adblocking software.

This is not the first announcement that may concern publishers from Apple this week, with the tech giant revamping its publishing offering launching the News app, aggregating content from 20 different high-profile publishers.

It isn't just advertising that could be affected in this move by Apple. The fact that cookies can also be blocked could mean that mobile devices could be able to skirt around publisher paywalls, which could be using cookies to monitor how many stories a user has viewed before they come up against a soft paywall.

For more on the rising of Adblocking and the crisis that is coming down the pipe for adland, see the latest issue of AdNews (12 June). You can subscribe in print, or if you love instant gratification, get it now on iPad.

 

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