Digital publishers will want to know, if they don't know already, that Apple is poised to release an update to Safari for iOS9 that permits browser-wide ad blocking. If you're determined to capitalize on the lucrative, ever-growing mobile consumer market, this may understandably seem like an apocalyptic pronouncement -- but is it? Let's examine what all the fuss is about, and what you can do minimize this development's impact on your publication's online revenue.
Making a Bad Situation Worse
Veteran users of the Safari desktop browser are used to the idea of ad-blocking software, which is also a common feature among other popular desktop browsers. But mobile is where the big money is these days, with worldwide mobile ad spending rising from $19 billion in 2013 to an expected $100 billion in 2016. Monetizing the mobile web has been a tricky enough proposition for marketers who struggle to with making traditional tracking, targeting, and old-school ad formats such as banner ads work effectively with mobile devices. These and other difficulties have already caused mobile audiences to outpace mobile revenues.
Additionally, the recent release of AdBlock Pro for the Google Android OS has put up the same roadblock across an even more widely-used platform, making prospects look awfully thin for digital publishers and marketers. Apple's pending incorporation of ad-blocking into its mobile Safari browser just makes things worse.
Looking on the Bright Side
On the other hand, just because a browser adds ad-blocking software doesn't mean that its users will never see another mobile ad again. Far from it, in fact, because it turns out about 90 percent of the mobile content users view or read comes to them, not directly through the browser, but through Web-base apps. Mobile surfers are likely to see ads placed on Facebook or Twitter ads, for instance, whether their browser of choice blocks ads or not. This points toward an obvious coping strategy -- focus your publication's mobile marketing efforts to target high-profile online apps. Another possibility is to emphasize branded content (in the form of native text or video advertising) over more readily blocked standard ads.
Getting on the Whitelists
Don't overlook the basic fact that ad blocking remains an option, not a default or a mandatory state. Users can still opt to turn the ad-blocking option on or off -- and the fewer irrelevant or annoying ads they encounter, the less
hurry they'll be in to hit the "Off" button. Most ad-blocking software also permits "whitelisting," the ability to exempt specific advertisers from an app or browser's ad-blocking Iron Curtain.
Want to make sure you make that list? You might try simply asking visitors to place you on it, giving them a link to an instruction sheet to make sure they do it correctly. But you also need to pour all your creativity into creating genuinely informative, entertaining ads that visitors actually like to see. Better yet, keep churning out top-class content in your publication and on its companion website -- and let your readers know that by whitelisting and viewing your ads, they're doing their part to keep that top-class content coming to them.
Sure, it's always worrying when a new obstacle springs up between you and the revenue so critical to your publication's survival. But keep things in perspective, pursue intelligent countermeasures, and push yourself to produce great ad and editorial content, and you can continue to connect with potential advertisers and subscribers, no matter how browsers evolve.