Ad blocking has made its way to mobile platforms, and is growing in popularity. Apple released IOS9 earlier this month, and among the new improvements and features was an unexpected addition: Content Blockers. As described by Apple “Content blockers affect what content is loaded while using safari. They cannot send any information about what was blocked back to the app”. The way ad blockers work is by blocking HTTP and HTTPS requests. Based on the source of the request, the content blockers can recognize and filter actual content on the page from the advertisements. This technology has been around on desktop platforms for a long time, but is newcomer on iOS. While it may seem like a great way to surf the web, its actually negatively impacting many sites and could force us into a “Freemium Age” where users have two options: Use the site for free, and deal with some ads, or pay a certain fee and skip the ads entirely.
Without advertising, digital content and services either will vanish, or the cost for their production and distribution will come directly from consumers’ wallets. Of even greater importance is the impact on the economy itself. Advertising represents $350 billion of the U.S. gross national product, and consumers depend on it to help make $9 trillion of annual spending decisions. “Advertising helps the economy function smoothly,” said Nobel Laureate economists Kenneth Arrow and George Stigler. “It keeps prices low and facilitates the entry of new products and new firms into the market.” Ad blocking disrupts this engine of competition. Some websites, particularly those with millennial audiences, are already losing up to 40% of their ad revenue because of ad blocking.
From a consumers standpoint, right now about 90% of people who currently use ad blockers are extremely satisfied. While customer satisfaction is always top priority, where does the line have to be drawn? Do websites want to flood your experience on their page with ads? No. But simply put the companies who pay for the advertising are making all of the content free for the users. If you had an choice between two identical products, one that was free, and one that you had to pay for what would you choose? While there may be a slight inconvenience, at the end of the day it comes down to what you would choose: watch a :30 second ad and get the content for free, or pay a subscription fee for an ad free experience.