Why Mobile Device Ad Blockers Could Cripple Internet Browsing, Even for Consumers

Close up hand holding mobile with Digital Advertising and icons,Advertising and marketing firms have just barely had enough time to start adapting their online campaigns to mobile device users, but thanks to Apple’s newest iOS 9 update last month, mobile ads are already getting blocked by a surplus of ad-blocking apps.

The New York Times recently conducted an in-depth four-day analysis of how ad blockers interact with Apple devices, including the iPhone and iPad, and Apple’s new operating system, iOS 9.

Ad-blocking apps and software programs have been available for internet users on desktop computers for a while now, the New York Times explained, but Apple’s iOS 9 is the first mobile operating system to be compatible with these programs. Mobile device users simply need to pick out which ad-blocking program to download — they can all be found in the App Store — and enable the Safari web browser to work with the program. After that, all mobile ads are immediately “choked off” inside the browser.

The NYT team found that the benefits of ad-blocking apps are very apparent — for customers, that is. It takes less time for pages to load, there are fewer distractions and fewer ads covering already-tiny smartphone screens, and the device’s battery life is extended.

The Boston.com homepage, for example, takes an average 30.8 seconds to load advertising content (using a typical 4G smartphone connection) but only 8.1 seconds to load editorial content; this is primarily because the website heavily features video ads.

The average CNN homepage — like most newspaper websites — takes 8.6 seconds to load ads, but only 5.3 seconds to load editorial content. Sites like Business Insider and BuzzFeed manage to close the gap in loading times without requiring a paid subscription, but it should be noted that these sites are also well-known places to find native advertising hidden inside “real content.”

By cutting out all of this advertising data, ad-blocking apps effectively reduce data usage, which turns into a real, tangible cost-savings, Digital Trends reported.

But many critics of ad-blocking software aren’t pleased with Apple’s decision to accept the programs on mobile devices; the consequences of blocking ads may actually harm customers in the long run, the New York Times said.

News outlets, like CNN and the Huffington Post, are able to bypass a subscription fee by displaying ads to cover the cost of editorial content; even small businesses trying to find local customers, or young entrepreneurs marketing an app for the first time, will have to find new ways of promoting their products on tight budgets.

“I think that a customer should always be presented with a choice: free subscription with ads or a premium subscription that is ad free. Many of our clients are affected by the new ad-blocking apps, and are forced to revisit their target demographic and decide whether they will stick with a freemium model or offer a premium option.” – Ola Danilina, CEO/ founder of PMBC Group – a Technology PR firm.