Ad Blocking Apps Cause 19% Drop in iOS Safari Clicks
Much has been made of Apple’s decision to allow ad blocking apps on the App Store. Some have decried it as the end of mobile advertising as we know it. Others have said it won’t have any material impact on advertiser’s ability to reach mobile audiences. But almost everyone agrees that it serves as a wake-up call for the entire industry.
We decided to find out for ourselves by quantifying the impact ad blocking apps have had on the mobile ecosystem to date.
To do so, we examined nearly 100 million clicks on iOS Safari in the first two weeks after the release of iOS 9 on September 16, when such apps first became available.
After normalizing the data based on the adoption rate figures of iOS 9 as provided by MixPanel so as to draw an apples-to-apples comparison, we learned that there was a 19% drop in the number of ad clicks in the first two weeks since the update.
What is the impact on the ecosystem?
Let’s try to put those numbers in perspective. Content blocking on devices running iOS 9 only applies to the mobile web, and even more specifically only to Safari, which has a market share of just 25% of mobile browsers. The in-app environment is not impacted (yet), which is important considering that’s where users spend no less than 90% of their time, according to Yahoo’s Flurry, and where most ad dollars are flowing (by a 3 to 1 ratio vs. the mobile web, according to eMarketer).
According to our data, only 14% of all iOS clicks and less than 3% of all mobile clicks come from Safari users. So a 19% drop in clicks in just one portion of the ecosystem is certainly worth noting, but hardly worth fretting over.
What does this mean for mobile advertisers and app publishers?
The net-net of it all is that we don’t expect mobile advertisers will be significantly affected by ad blocking software. For those advertisers that conduct their own media buying, they’ll simply have to seek out more in-app opportunities or consider shifting some dollars to Android. For ad networks that were heavily reliant on mobile web sites for their inventory, they’ll have to make sure their networks consist of plenty of apps, Chrome-optimized mobile web sites and Android publishers.
If you’re a mobile publisher that relies heavily on Safari users for your traffic (and therefore ad revenue), it’s past time that you diversified anyway.
*Build an app and start sending your audience there instead of the mobile web.
*Reduce the amount of ads on your mobile web site and optimize it for the best possible user experience so that users don’t feel the need to download an ad blocker in the first place.
*Experiment with new revenue streams such as a paywall or news aggregator.
Although Apple’s move to allow ad blocking apps has caused a downturn in the number of clicks on Safari-based mobile web sites, its overall impact on the ecosystem at large is negligible. In other words, it is hardly the “adblockolypse” some have made it out to be.