As you are likely aware Apple has decided to enable ad-blocking in iOS 9 which allows one to download and install ad-blocking software onto their iOS device, which in turn allows the user to block ads presented to them in Safari. Since iOS devices dominate the mobile web, this has the potential to affect publishers in a very negative way. When I first heard about this my initial reaction was, “Say It ain’t So”. I thought about this for a while and realized that now the real power is in the hands of the user, where it should be. However, a shotgun approach to ad-bocking could cause many of the sites one visits to go under.
The Good side
There is a good and bad side to this decision. On the good side, users can take control of the ads that they are bombarded with on a daily basis on their mobile devices, which they pay big money for. I dislike intrusive ads just as much is anyone else. They are at the very least annoying and at their worst, costly. They consume our bandwidth which we also pay a premium for. They take longer to load which affects the browsing experience and they usually provide little value. Pop-ups, self-running video ads, ads that take control of your browser are really over the top and need to be reined in. I see examples of this in political advertising, lose weight now, get rich quick, red-light niches and general tabloid related stuff that provides little value. These advertisers and publishers believe they can capture an audience in this way when all they are actually doing is pissing us off. As users, we are also affected by this and don’t like it any more than you do.
An Ethical Dilemma
We understand the user’s desire to browse in peace. Understanding Apple’s motivation is a little more complex. Google stands to lose billions, and I’m sure no one at Apple is shedding any tears over that. Apple has said that the future is in Apps. Apple is offering publishers to come on board their News App to provide their readers with a clean reading experience. OK, that’s cool, I get that. However, when you say that the future is in Apps, what exactly do you really mean—specifically as this relates to the web? We have a World Wide Web and it functions quite well and most importantly, it offers diversity and freedom. Is there anything in Apple’s grand plan that changes that?
Apple’s decision has a significant impact on Google and other ad networks. In my opinion, all ad networks need to ensure that they do not distribute offensive ad types, especially to mobile devices and this should also serve to inform big advertisers that we’re not all that keen on you tracking our every move. If I’m not interested in your product while at home, what makes you think I’ll be interested when I’m a block or two away from your establishment. Publishers, especially the small mom and pop sites are paid a mere pittance for displaying the ads that are distributed to them by these networks. The ad networks can play nice and stop sending inappropriate ads to mobile devices or they can go down in flames. I just don’t want their actions or inactions to drag good blogs down with them.
The developer of the top ad-blocking app in the App Store, “Peace”, pulled his app down because he realized the potential negative impact this could have on the millions of sites that provide the content we seek. This really drives home the point that the big advertisers, ad networks, and the niches themselves that are prone to distribute and display undesirable ads rethink what they are doing and how they are doing it. Perhaps regulation? Does the FCC have any influence here? I’m glad this conversation is happening.
The Bad Side
The bad news is that this decision has the potential to have a very negative impact on the small businesses and thousands of other blogs like our own who work very hard to provide you with good information and perspective that can at times be outside the mainstream. The main danger to web publishers and bloggers is if users choose to indiscriminately block all ads, not just pop-ups or self-running videos or other undesirables.
Publishers, like ourselves, depend on ad revenue to keep the lights on. The free information we offer is anything but free. Aside from hosting and domain renewals, we pay for writers, SEO, maintenance and other services. Many sites like our own are a labor of love and none of us are getting rich doing this. Without ad revenue, we are dead in the water. That in itself has huge potential to change the web as we know it. If all these sites go away what we are left with is less diversity, fewer opinions, and perspectives. I personally fear a Wal-Martification of the Internet, where once again mom and pop businesses are forced to go under. You can’t get any more un-American than that.
Throwing the Baby out with the Bathwater
Web sites that provide good content and act responsibly should not be dragged down by crap ads and the decision to block them. Ironically the power to make this happen should not be in the hands of Apple or Google or Facebook. It should be in the hands of the millions of users who spend their time and money on the products and services that have made the Apple’s, Google’s and Facebook’s what they are today.
I am reaching out to our readers to ask you to not block ads from cupertinotimes.com. We do our best to prevent intrusive or undesirable ads that are of little value to you. What we ask is for you to simply let us know if you find any ad displayed on this site to be objectionable, either on your mobile device or your desktop. We will make every effort to stop that add from appearing on cupertinotimes.com.
At some point in the future, we may see sites asking for donations to offset the cost of presenting good information to the public online. Information, diverse opinions, commentary, and news should be free to anyone who seeks it. But this has never really been true, since we pay for the hardware, we buy access from service providers and we have paid for millions of sites providing content by lending the ads they display our eyes for a few seconds. We fully understand that we would not be here if it wasn’t for you and we truly appreciate it every time you direct your eyeballs to our content. I personally want to thank you for your support and interest in CupertinoTimes.com and hope you keep coming back to visit us and that we can keep the lights on.
The major players in this Bermuda Triangle are Apple, Google, and Facebook. I’m sure we’ll be posting more on this topic as it develops.
We would really like to hear from you on this so please feel free to leave us your comments.