What the New iOS Safari Ad Blockers Mean for Digital Marketing
Recently, Apple introduced the iOS 9 for mobile but an important update was also included for Safari, which went unnoticed by many tech bloggers in advance: the introduction of “content blocking” functionality. On iOS 9 this is accomplished by downloading simple ad blocking apps. And by the morning following the update, several of these apps sat solidly within the top five most popular apps in the App Store. They are inexpensive and simple to use. But they tend to serve as blunt instruments: they lack the user-end flexibility of traditional desktop ad blockers. These new apps for Safari work – more or less – by blocking virtually anything that might (or might not) be an advertisement. Images, video feeds, and popups are among those forms of content which have been unilaterally affected. Here are a few things to consider regarding the recent change:
It seems clear that some function was needed to this effect. Mobile bandwidth has been increasingly consumed by extraneous content. A website crowded with ads can slow a mobile device’s functionality to the point where the site is more or less inaccessible. Many users today have unlimited bandwidth, but there is still a large number of consumers who do not and this additional, unwanted bandwidth consumes valuable data. So the option will yield a terrific return on the price of the app for some. Ad blocking software seems poised to save mobile users time and money, but it will continue to affect the nuance of our digital marketing strategies.
While online advertisements are a major part of many SEO and digital marketing strategies, they are by no means the soul of the industry… not anymore. Recent studies suggest that many people are already ad-blind online. The use of heatmaps in user-experience design has revealed that many people don’t even look at online ads, much less click on them. In fact, it may be the reason that a broad array of tools and techniques have been developed for online marketing, and why some measure of the coming change has been effecting in the background for months (funny we say “months” when it used to be years). Inline web content, organic search enhancement, social media marketing promoted content and inbound are just a few of those tools we employ today which reduce the impact of ineffective advertisements and increase natural interaction with audiences.
These new apps only work for the iOS. They are unavailable to Android users. Furthermore, they only work for the Safari browser. Despite both Chrome and Firefox being heavily integrated with Safari on the iOS platform, ad blockers are as yet unavailable for these browsers. In addition, it can be safely assumed that not everyone who might take advantage of these apps will ultimately do so. Despite the recent increase in mobile platforms’ overall share of all internet connectivity, the number of internet connections taking advantage of this new functionality is small.
For the time being there is no reason for marketers to panic. The introduction of ad blocking software for the desktop platform years back has never served to completely eliminate the effectiveness of advertisements. Inline content design, a thorough network of backlinks, and true SEO tactics have already proven to be extremely resilient to any reduction in the display or targeted advertisements. The ultimate cost of the new ad blockers, across all affected industries, is estimated at just shy of US$1 billion which, in terms of the product of the entire digital marketing industry worldwide, is barely a drop in the bucket.