The latest Apple iOS 9 release brings ad blocking to iPhone and iPad devices. Apple users now have the ability to block online advertising and they are doing so in droves. In fact since iOS 9 was released on September 16th ad blockers are the best selling apps in the app store. Apple users are willing to drop a little cash for ad blockers to eliminate the clutter of advertising while browsing the web on their mobile devices.
Most of the reports we’ve read are pointing to an end of the web as we know it as ad blockers become more popular. I think the arguments are valid as major publishers rely on ad revenue to offer services they would otherwise need to charge money for. Regardless of the impact it’s clear that online ads have gotten out of hand and users have had enough. The problem is magnified on mobile devices where bandwidth is consumed for the ads and trackers. No one wants to pay for data overages to view ads on the web. Yet many enjoy the benefit of content and services that are being paid for through the advertising revenue.
Last week we found out that Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus is cutting deals with Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and other large companies to whitelist their ads. To some that defeats the purpose of having an ad blocker. Perhaps it’s a balance between blocking bad ads vs. good ones but I think those who pay for ad blockers will expect them to block ads entirely, not allow ads from companies who pay the app maker to whitelist them. The problem is that while there are a lot of ad blockers on the market and more hitting the app store at a record pace, most of them rely on the databases of larger companies like Adblock Plus and Ghostery to decide which ads to block.
According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal some of the most popular iOS ad blockers include 1Blocker, Adblock Mobile, Crystal, Peace, and Purify Blocker. Marco Arment, the developer behind Peace, decided to pull his app after it had become the top paid app in the first 36 hours after iOS 9 was released. I suggest you read his “Just doesn’t feel good” post to learn why he pulled the app after having so much early success. It shines a light on the discussion over the impact ad blockers are starting to have on publishers.
On the other side of the coin Dean Murphy, the developer behind Crystal, has decided to work with Eyeo to allow “acceptable” ads through. The feature will be on by default. Time will tell whether or not users accept this approach to blocking ads. In the meantime Eyeo is reaching out to other app developers and offering them payment to integrate their whitelist. This just goes to show that ad blocking is growing into its own cottage industry. My personal preference is to have as much control as possible over the ads I view on my laptop, smartphone, and tablet.