Content Blockers in Apple’s iOS9: Much Ado About Nothing?

Apple i0s9 Content Blocker

The latest iOS release, iOS9, includes support for content blockers, or applications that can block certain types of content from the Safari mobile browser. This includes ads, cookies, media, tracking code, and more that run in the background of most web pages.

While some of these apps claim to reduce page load times and data traffic, they can ultimately hurt websites and businesses that are running any type of advertising or analytics.

How prevalent are content blockers?

Many of these apps and browser extensions need to be manually installed and activated in order to start blocking certain content types (which you can specify). But, due to a number of factors, the prevalence of content blockers is minimal, and in fact, we’ve already seen Peace, a popular content blocking app, removed from the iTunes store. The developer Marco Arment was recently cited in an AdWeek article saying that he realized quickly after the app began to explode in popularity that it could cause widespread financial damage to publishers and other sites that subsist on ad revenue.

What impact can these apps have on your ads?

For iOS9 devices that have a content blocker installed and active, the content blockers only affect the mobile version of Safari. Our ReachLocal product development team has run a series of tests to determine what impact these apps might have on our clients’ advertising. Based on these initial tests, we have seen minimal impact to advertising results in the Safari mobile browser:

  • No effect on search ads in Safari or any other browser;
  • Slight impact to display and retargeting ads, which may not show up on websites visited using the mobile version of Safari;
  • No impact to display and retargeting ads in browsers outside of Safari, such as Google Chrome;
  • No impact to in-app advertising as these are not affected by content blocker apps.

However, due to the recency of Apple’s support for content blockers in iOS9, as well as the availability of these apps, we can’t say to what extent mobile advertising will be affected by this announcement.

How can businesses minimise potential impact?

At ReachLocal, we follow best practices for all our digital advertising — mobile included — and we’re continuously improving our campaigns to achieve top results for our clients.

If you think iOS content blockers may be affecting the reach of your digital advertising, please contact your advertising provider with any questions you may have. If you’re a ReachLocal client, please contact your ReachLocal representative directly.


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