This summer, Internet users let out a collective groan when Apple released their latest mobile operating system.
The new iOS 9 gives users the ability to block web ads in the Safari browser.
Though ad blockers aim to give users an improved web browsing experience by hiding online ads that slow down web pages, they can seriously hurt businesses that rely on those ads for revenue. Should your business be worried about the iOS 9 ad blockers? Let’s evaluate.
Related Article: A Hand-Held World: The Future of Mobile Advertising
Assess the Risk
If your business brings in substantial revenue from web ads, you’re no doubt a bit concerned with all the talk that ad blockers will bring an end to the Internet as we know it. But you may fare better than you think. Take a minute to assess your risk in three key areas:
1. Mobile Device Popularity
If your consumers are heavy mobile users, are they mostly using Apple or Android? Apple’s iOS and Safari browser are not the most popular way for mobile users around the world to browse the Internet. Android dominates the worldwide smartphone OS market with a share of nearly 83 percent—compared to iOS’s share of roughly 14 percent. And Safari accounts for only 20 percent of mobile web traffic across the globe.
Additionally, the latest ad-blocking technology is only available for newer model iPhones and iPads that support iOS 9. So consumers who are still using older mobile devices don’t even have the option to adopt the ad blockers.
2. Ad Blocking on Other Devices
Ad-blocking technology has been available for years on Android devices and desktop computers, so it isn’t new. If your customers aren’t using ad blockers on other devices, chances are they aren’t going to suddenly adopt them on their iPhones or iPads.
If your paid advertisements have been performing increasingly well even with the existence of ad-blocking software for desktop and Android, you may see little (if any) impact from ad blockers for mobile Safari.
If you run a business related to technology or software, chances are high that you will experience some negative effects from ad blocker usage in iOS 9. This is because your target audience is likely full of individuals who are more tech-savvy than the average mobile user—meaning they know how to install ad blockers and don’t mind fiddling with iPhone settings to enable them.
Now that you’ve assessed the situation, you should have a better idea how your company could be affected by iOS 9 ad blockers. If you think your business may be at risk, here are a few precautions you can take:
1. Focus Your Efforts on Organic Traffic
If you don’t want to be hit hard by ad blockers, your best defense is to diversify your methods for driving traffic to your website. Consider investing in content marketing, social media marketing, or email marketing. Sharing blog content, e-books, and webinars across social channels and in emails is a great way to reach consumers without in-your-face ads.
2. Improve Your Web Ads
Ad blockers exist because of bad advertising. Consumers don’t like to feel interrupted or bombarded by web advertisements. But if an ad is simple and feels like part of the experience, it usually isn’t a bother.
Consider revamping your ads to make them more relevant and less intrusive. If you’re really good, consumers using ad blockers might choose to add your business to their whitelist—meaning their ad blocker will bypass your site so your ads can still be seen.
3. Get Creative With New Advertising Strategies
Finally, avoid a fallout from ad blocking by investing your ad spend a bit differently. Consider trying out other types of advertising that won’t be hidden by ad-blocking technology.
Most social media sites allow for native advertising, which consumers tend to tolerate pretty well because it feels more natural and less like a forced experience. For example, Twitter cards are a great way to get user attention without causing all sorts of ad angst.
Related Article: How To Create Facebook Ads That Drive Sales
So, how will ad blocking take shape in the months to come?
It’s safe to say that ad-blocking technology is still being refined. One top ad blocker developer already killed his popular app because he felt it was unethical to block all revenue-driving ads on free sites. This was a bold move, but it has me believing that businesses and ad blockers will eventually find some common ground.
In the end, I think ad-blocking software will function like website crawlers—helping to distinguish good ads from spam ads. And if that happens, content publishers and ad blockers might be able to operate in harmony without putting each other out of business.