Publishers panic as Apple cleans their mobile platform from banner ad addiction.

Aug 31 we reported that Apple adds ad blocking ability to all devices: publishers panic, and they haven't stopped panicking yet. Among the many publications worrying about Apple strangling their potential income was Computer Sweden @, who wrote a long partisan article asking "What happens to the content of the internet when the money vanishes?", practically begging users to not adblock.

I dunno man, have you considered doing lecture tours and selling T-shirts, as the standard response is to all musicians?

We've heard the complaints from publishers about ad blockers since at least 2007, and we've warned against the lax security at banner networks since long before that. Not even Google is safe from carrying malware advertising. They may have attempted to make things more secure by removing flash from chrome, but lets be honest, it's not just the malware that makes web advertising a security issue.

Internet advertising are a privacy concern, apart from malware. Look at shoes at a shopping site, and suddenly shoe banners are following you around the web for days. In Russia Post-It even used this tracking phenomena to make a creative campaign. To add to the pain, internet banners will slow down your devices by loading videos you never watched and a bucket full of cookies to your browsing history.

As we said back in 2004 'if a member donates some of their pocket change to the site, they should not have to see banners or fill in long-winded forms about their income and sexual preferences.', when we decided to bet on you readers supporting the archive by your donations to our bandwidth support fund, rather than putting all eggs in the advertising supported model. We chose to do that because chasing the click, as banner support forces you to do, devalues to content you're producing. We still had ads for non-members, using Google adsense, but then they banned us, un-banned us, and banned us again, twice. It was feeling more like an abusive relationship rather than a simple way to get extra cash when Google seemingly recoils at advertising itself, despite being the worlds largest advertising company. Google has been infected with "malvertising", more than once, and served NSFW porn ads on serious news sites. The consumer sees advertising on the web as parasitic, while the publishers see it as their only paycheck.

It's no surprise at all that Apple wants to allow Ad Blocking in Safari in iOS9, while forcing the newsreader app to be unremovable. Apple wants not only to safeguard its users, allow for less battery use, not waste 10MB of data loading video ads in the background, but also to control the advertising on their device, which is their platform. But the backlash is surprising, as New York Times reports that the maker of an ad block app, Marco Arment, removed his program from the App Store and offered refunds, saying that while stopping ads does “benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve to be hit.” It hurts publishers like Gawker, Forbes, Businessinsider - anyone who relies on banner ads for income. This is why a wide range of publishers have spent so much energy starting their own creative departments for advertorial content, from CNN to Buzzfeed. Meanwhile, twitter and facebook are becoming more aggressive in charging you for being seen on their platforms. Smart phones and tablets are increasingly scraping selected news sources to add into their "readers" per default, leaving those publications who wrote the articles with less banner-showing clicks in return.

Advertisers, who may just have gotten used to buying programmatic media, should take note, because this is eating into the data knowledge that companies all around the web have mushroomed around. There's a shift to platforms, not data now, in an increasingly privacy concerned world. With the FTC finally cracking down on twitter stating that "advertising disclosure standards apply to messages posted on social networks" burning Deutsch employees in the process, there's less ability to buy the charms of "influencers" and instead you need to promote your tweet. With advertorials, like gif-laden lists bought at Buzzfeed who watches you, the publisher becomes part creative agency part data-collector - leaving the ad agency in the dark, with nothing to do but coddle the client.

The dream of perfectly targeted ads is slowly dying, as counting clicks kills content and platforms are now the new kings of serving up publications's work. Content is no longer king, the platform on which it is delivered is. The battle is now mainly between Google, Apple and other device & app creators in who controls these platforms, and the consumer data these can collect. This is a new land grab on the web, and the surviver will be the one who allows for sharing the ad income with the content creators. Unless you want to see Apple's news reader full of T-shirts for sale.

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kidsleepy's picture

It's not just the publishers who are panicking, let alone the brands who want people to see their ads. It's also the companies whose job it is to take the ads we come up with and build them. Take Celtra for instance. My agency works with them all the time and they are great in building rich media units for us, especially in mobile. If ad blockers become even more successful, they'll displace a cottage industry of media companies and tech-based companies who employ tons of people.

I'm not saying I like banner ads or mobile ads any more than the consumer; I hate them in fact. And I also believe for the most part any click-through rate is purely accidental, especially on mobile where the "X," button to close to ad always seems not to work. Conspiracy theories aside, I feel bad for the companies whose job it is to help us build the ads and place them.

The companies like Gawker and Buzzfeed who profit off of sleaze and lowest common denominator content? Not so much.

Thea T's picture

The problem is the basic premise of advertising is failing. I don't want to see or hear random promotional material. If I seek a product I will seek out information like specifications and reviews myself. I don't need nor want assistance in that because it brings bias.

kidsleepy's picture

Most review sites like Yelp are just as biased. Even the Better Business Bureau has been accused of pay-for-play ratings. The amount of research needed to get a true sense of what a product is like isn't as simple as just going to one site and reading a few reviews. It's like that special judging where you throw out the worst, throw out the best and read the middle and make up your own mind. You can't escape bias.