​The sinister side of iOS9 and ad blocking

You may not have noticed but there is a startling new feature in iOS9 and that is marketed as being to improve your mobile web experience……

This new version of software allows for the first time for ad blocking and there are a number that have appeared in the Apps store in recent weeks including –

  • Ad Block Mobile
  • Freedom Ad Blocker
  • Crystal
  • Lionz Blocker
  • Ad Locker
  • Clear Ad Blocker
  • Stops Ad
  • Blocker
  • EZ Block Ad
  • Distilled
  • ibBlock
  • Ad Stop
  • Ad Kill
  • Unity Ad Blocker
  • Super Ad Blocker
  • Green Duck
  • Block Ads
  • Blockr

I will stop there as the list has grown from a standing start to be both extensive and prolific. Theoretically this is all about speed and stopping those annoying adverts that pop-up and take bandwidth.

Apple taking a ‘free hit’ at Google

For most of us, we all take advantage of reading free content and it is the model that we understand that we surrender some degree of privacy of our browsing so that a 3rd party gets to understand our preferences etc

As we click through to sites from these referrals, there is a monetization of cents or partial cents that is paid. That all happens without our explicit consent or approval, but that is the basic economics of a free internet.

Who is behind this tracking can varies from site to site, but we all know that our friends at Google are big on tracking on cyber activity and making specific offers to us.

In essence, Apple is forcing our hand and we have to view news content via an App that is approved by them and that they get monetized for.

Read more: The week in security: Lack of staff driving creative recruitment; Out-securing Dropbox

Google Strikes Back

However the war is just starting and we have witnessed Google reacting to this situation by punishing Ad Block users with un-skippable YouTube adverts.

In the last day we have seen the promotion of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), with the intention that this will address speed issues. A number of companies including BBC, Washington Post, Fairfax Media, NineMSN, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest are using or about to use AMP.

This works on the basis of simplifying the web pages and stripping out heavy javascript, thereby pages are smaller – hence load much faster.

Plus in order that this runs faster, the content is also loaded onto servers and cached in memory. While this has been releases this has to be rolled out and we would expect new pages to be rendered that are AMP optimized.

Facebook in an Instant

Read more: Cybersecurity, Meet SAM

Our friends at Facebook are also in the picture, but note that in the main their content sits within the Facebook environment – thus Ad Blockers don’t effect them.

Facebook launched what they named Instant Articles earlier this year in May with a claim that content would load 10 x faster than standard mobile web and this has been proven for nearly 50 major online newspapers.

We are caught in the middle

As users we are stuck in this battle for the eyeballs and there is not a clear path. You could lash out and buy an Ad Blocker for $1.29 but it may not be necessary should Google (AMP) and Facebook (Instant Articles) all works as expected.

It does however create a new market opportunity for micro payments and being able to pay to not be annoyed by adverts. I’ve spoken confidentially to a contact who is working on such a deal.

There is a sinister side of iOS9 and allowing ad blocking. But there are much bigger stakes at play than actually how fast your mobile web experience turns out to be. We watch while we have 3 large titans of Silicon Valley all fighting for their longer term profitability and positioning.

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Tags GoogleiOS9ampsoftwareDavid Geemobile webCSO AustraliaFacebook

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