Apple's announcement that iOS 9 would include ad-blocking and tracker-blocking as a system level feature is widely expected to shake up the mobile advertising industry when iOS 9 ships later this year, but few seem to realize that the new blocking features are already having an impact.
I was reading a post today on Charles Arthur's personal blog, The Overspill. Arthur writes for The Guardian and other august publications, but today he wrote on his blog how the ad blocking revolution was going to change everything.
While I generally agree that the impact will be revolutionary, I also think that the revolution has already begun.
I have seen more discussion of the negative impact of adverts on web browsing in the past four months than I had seen in the previous four years. What used to a niche topic discussed on sites where web publishers congregate is now hotly debated across the tech blogosphere.
Digiday, for example, informed us a couple weeks ago that the Washington Post has cut its side loading time by as much as 85%. No one other than a few techies used to care details like about that, but now we're all talking about it.
You didn't used to see leading link blogs like Daring Fireball comment favorably when iOS developers analyzed how adverts and trackers create a poor user experience on popular news sites like iMore, nor would you have expected the site in question to admit the truth of the analysis.
Similarly, I don't know the last time that a major news site like The Verge has been called out for grousing about the mobile browsing experience when in fact that site had admitted two months before that it was one of the reasons why that expereince is so bad.
And who would expect a VC finance site like VentureBeat to show interest in a study that showed that blocking adverts cut network traffic. There's also increased interest from sites like Digiday and Business Insider on how publishers are fighting back against ad blockers by blocking the blockers or trying to circumvent the blocks, and every month there are new editorials calling ad blocking immoral, or at least a bad move (*).
This, folks, is the revolution in action.
Change is already happening, and I would predict that by the time iOS 9 finally launches it will be the coup de grace, and not the coup d'etat that some are expecting. iOS9 could be the straw that breaks the camel's back, but I don't see it as a ticking time bomb.
P.S. Isn't it curious how so many response can be mapped on to the five stages of grief? Those who protest the coming change are in the first or second stage (anger or denial). Charles Arthur and I, on the other hand, have moved on to the fifth stage (acceptance).
P.P.S. I am also stuck in the third stage (bargaining). Please don't block my adverts; I promise to keep them from being too annoying. 😉
image by Steven Pisano