How iOS 9 Ad Blocking Hits Your Bottom Line

On September 16th, 2015, Apple released iOS 9, the first major software upgrade to the iPhone and iPad since September 2014. The new OS boasts a range of features, including a more robust Notes app, updates to Maps, and the addition of a default newsreader app. Among these updates, Apple has released a quiet yet transformative addition by enabling ad-blocking extensions to run in Safari.

To sum it up: ad blocking is bad for business unless you adapt your advertising strategy. Here’s a quick run-down on how ad blocking impacts your business and how you can continue to grow and thrive in the new advertising reality of iOS and iPhone.

1) Your PPC ads will not appear in Google search.

Hotels that benefit from Google PPC ads will find that many third-party ad blockers sold on the App Store remove PPC ads entirely from the view of potential customers. Here are some screenshots taken before and after a third-party ad blocker was installed. Notice that ads have disappeared in the “after” shot.

before ios9 adblocking

Before iOS 9 Adblocking

after ios9 adblocking

After iOS 9 Adblocking


2) If you want your ads to appear in search, someone must pay.

Third-party ad blockers are willing to exempt certain websites’ advertisements from ad blocking in a process called “whitelisting” — but only if the website’s ads meet the ad blocker’s criteria, and only if the website pays the ad blocker for this privilege. Some advertisers have reported that roughly 30% of their revenue goes to paying off ad blockers.

That being said, some ad blocking apps enable users to continue to support their favorite websites (and those websites’ advertising revenues) by allowing users to create their own personalized set of whitelisted sites.

3) You need to get creative and broaden your advertising arsenal beyond PPC.

Though ad blockers remove PPC and image ads from the browser, alternative approaches like native advertising and proprietary apps are immune to the trend. Native advertising, as the name implies, is made to blend in with published site content. Typically, native advertising appears as sponsored long form content written to match the style and substance of a website such as a news source or social platform. The design of native advertising makes it difficult for third-party ad blockers to identify or block your content. Beyond this, native advertising has its benefits: readers tend to react positively in response to high-quality, engaging, and beneficial native advertising.

Depending on the size and offerings of your business, you may also find it worthwhile to develop your own app for promoting user engagement.

4) Keep your eye on iAd.

Unlike the broad-based ad blocking capabilities within Safari, third-party ad blockers cannot block advertising in other apps. These include a number of Apple’s default apps, including News, Music, App Store and Wallet. Going forward, iAd will offer exclusive advertising for Apple default apps, which will present an additional opportunity for businesses.

5) Don’t expect ad blocking to magically disappear.

The 2015 Ad Blocking Report by PageFair, in partnership with Adobe, predicts that ad blocking on mobile will continue to drive the conversation. Here are a few numbers to consider:

  • Ad blockers cost about $5.8B in unearned revenue in 2014; this amount is expected nearly to double in 2015.
  • The use of ad blocking grew by 45% between Q2 2014 and Q2 2015.
  • 5% of ad blocking is directed toward search engines; 6.9% is directed toward travel websites.

The message for leaders in the hotel industry is this: ad blocking is expanding rapidly, causes lost revenue, and may be directed toward your preferred platform for advertisement. Be sure to stay ahead of the curve by incorporating creative alternatives in your advertising portfolio. Though the rising prominence of ad blocking apps on iPhone may deflect revenues from PPC, it also presents an opportunity for businesses to experiment and succeed with innovative advertising platforms.

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Addison Larson