Will Apple Kill the Mobile Web By Blocking Ads on Its Safari App?

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Last week, Apple announced that its new iOS 9 operating system will allow developers to create tools and extensions allowing users to block ads from appearing on its mobile Safari browser. Across the Internet, this news is causing a major meltdown.

By allowing ad blocking on Safari, Apple may make ad blocking go mainstream, causing the lucrative business of online advertising to run dry -- and fast.
By allowing ad blocking on Safari, Apple may make ad blocking go mainstream, causing the lucrative business of online advertising to run dry — and fast.

Journalists, marketers and advertisers alike are taking to the web to air their concerns. By allowing ad blocking on Safari, Apple may make ad blocking go mainstream, causing the lucrative business of online advertising to run dry — and fast.

The decision could also harm Apple itself by making the user experience on Safari more frustrating, causing people to switch to Google Chrome or another browser while browsing on their mobile devices, opponents say.

“If browsers start negatively impacting publishers’ abilities to monetize their mobile content, it may trigger a backlash where certain sites are ‘not optimized for use with Safari,'” wrote Philip Elmer-DeWitt at Fortune.

Mobile advertising has become an increasingly vital part of marketing to an online audience, especially when more than 50% of people who own a smartphone primarily surf the web from their phones. As a result, it’s no surprise at all that marketing executives are panicking at the news that Safari — the web browser ubiquitously used by iPhone owners — will no longer display ads to users.

But there’s plenty of evidence that indicates taking ads off Safari won’t kill the mobile web. In fact, the iOS 9 update might actually allow mobile ads to thrive within other apps, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Because the ad-blocking extension doesn’t extend to apps that aren’t Safari, it’s only websites and companies that are web-reliant that need to worry about losing ad revenue.

“If I was Facebook or Twitter, I would not be worried about this at all because almost everything I do is app-based,” Tim Dunn, director of strategy at digital marketing agency Isobar told BuzzFeed News.

Additionally, allowing ad blocking could actually help encourage better practices among advertisers and publishers, CIO.com reported. By giving users the choice to block ads on their mobile web browsers, advertisers will be forced to consider why their ads are putting users off. This both empowers users to avoid annoying ad practices, and provides an impetus to advertisers to improve their mobile ads.

Instead of being overcome with blind rage toward Apple’s latest move, it’s better to take a step back and look at Apple’s reasons for allowing ad blocking in the first place — and to analyze how this inevitable change could actually be beneficial.

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