Apple endangers shameless mobile advertisements.

This article was first published by

In life, few things are as passively satisfying as “blocking” out the little annoyances. Telemarketers calling during dinner, well gripe for a second, then simply say “please put me on the do not call list.” Have a embarrassing family member on Facebook that you can’t unfriend? Well bypass that social media trainwreck by blocking them from your newsfeed. It seems just as society-wide rage reaches a fever pitch with an irritant, someone releases a tool to circumvent it. Today the most prominent digital irritant bombarding our lives is without question mobile advertisements, and almost like clockwork Apple has swooped in to save the day, allowing ad-blocking applications to be developed for its iOS mobile operating system.

Take a minute to consider how many advertisements you encounter on just one site. There are banner ads, little videos that autoplay (sometimes with sound, i.e. “the internet plague”), assorted tiny ad icons and logos, areas that look like content but are secretly ads (commonly referred to as “native advertisements”), and worst of all the fullscreen ad. As obstructive as these ads might be on your mobile devices small screen, they keep the lights on at that company and pay all of it's employees salaries. As great as it is to freely consume news, entertainment, and converse at all times through the compact computer in your pocket, someone has to pay for it.

Advertising is the lifeblood of the publishing world. Actually, advertising has become the fuel to several industry fires with the rise of the online freemium marketplace. Freemium products are goods and services that come in several flavors: ad-free at a cost, ad-light at a reduce cost, or ad-heavy. Social Media, mobile gaming, streaming media, and the mountain of others could exist without advertising, but with subscribers footing the substantial bill.

If a website has scale passed niche-tool to industry-wide reach, the opportunity might eventually be provided for users to pay for an ad-free experience, but unveiling such a fee can be dicey. The ethics of online consumption are just simply messed up. Few things that seem free can ever successfully graduate to a pay model. There are simply too many alternatives. In 2011 when the New York Times moved to a paywall, gated content website the entire news world sat quietly praying it would work. However the publishers who tried to the same subscriber-only online move quickly realized they’re not the Times and lost a lot of eyeballs and revenue with the move.Until someone comes up with a better model, companies that aren’t the New York Times must rely on ads, and pray to the Gods of profit that ad-blockers don’t cause them to implode.

Apple doesn’t care about advertisers, it cares about user experience. Ads impede a pleasant iPhone experience, so after years of debate, the company baked in ad-blocking capabilities into the latest version of it's mobile operating system iOS. Developers can now program applications that sniff out advertisements on websites, as well as in applications and mobile games. Given the iPhones status as the king of mobile phones, that is a lot of advertisements getting blocked.

No Apple’s move won’t cause online advertising armageddon, as has always been the case programmers on the advertising end will simply have to innovate. While the days are certainly numbered for blatant and content hindering ads, this certainly means the rise of deceptive native advertisements and online product placement. All Apple really has done is make Google and other ad delivery companies work a little harder. So as annoying as in-app and full screen ads are, my concern is this might be a situation where we end up missing the devil we know.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


Popular Posts