Why Apple ad blocking should not send you flocking - it'll only cost US$1bn

Paul Madill
By Paul Madill | 24 September 2015

Analysts at financial services company UBS have stated that ad blocking on iPhones and iPads will "only" cost the global ad market US$1 billion (AU$1.4 billion) - just 0.5% of total digital advertising and 1.3% of mobile advertising spends.

This is some way from the US$22 billion (AU$31.4 billion) losses that Pagefair and Adobe forecasted in their 2015 ad blocking report released in August.

The UBS analysts join those from JP Morgan in using the word "overblown" to describe the amount of worrying and navel-gazing that has descended on publishers and advertising providers since the announcement that Apple was allowing ad blocking apps to be used in iOS9.

UBS gives four reasons not to worry too much. Firstly, ads in apps are not blocked, and the majority of mobile ad revenue comes through that conduit.

Secondly, only ads in Safari are blocked, while thirdly, human lassitude might come into play, as you need to go through a setup process to enable the blockers and some people will simply not bother.

Lastly, the blockers will only function on iOS 9 running on 64-bit devices. This means it won't work on every iPhone, just the 5s and iPhone 6 and 6s. The more antiquated iPads will not allow the blockers to work, either.

UBS also highlight Yahoo and Adobe as among those at greatest risk, as a relatively large portion of their revenues comes via desktop access, where ad blocking happens to be most prevalent.

Social media giants Twitter and Facebook also dodge the bullet because of the former's high revenues from its mobile app and the latter's high mobile usage.

One point to consider was raised by JP Morgan, as they flagged up one issue being not that of lost revenue but of lost data.

Blockers stop the tracking that publishers use to inform themselves about their users, and this could impact on targeting. 

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