Online ads are fast becoming an endangered species, and as ad-blocking technology becomes more popular, it is finally reaching one of advertising's final frontiers: mobile browsers.
Adblock Plus (one of the most popular ad-blocking plugins) is debuting its own ad-free browser for the iPhone. The company already has a browser for Android (which was met with mixed reviews) and is hoping to have the iPhone version out as early as next week, depending on when it gets approved by Apple's App Store. To show how it stacks up to Safari, they did a quick test, loading a few websites on the Adblock browser and Safari, and declaring that it "kicks Safari's ass:"
If you're not sold on a separate browser, AdBlock Plus also plans to release a content blocker that will run on Safari in the new iOS using Apple's new content-filtering tools.
And mainstream companies are following suit. This week, Google announced the newest version of Chrome will block Flash-based web ads and Apple revealed the new iOS and Safari (set to launch next month) will also enable users to block certain content, including ads. Even Howard Stern recently discovered the wonders of surfing the web unhindered by ads.
All of this has online publishers understandably worried. A recent report said publishers stand to lose as much as $22 billion in online revenue this year thanks to ad-blocking technology, and that number is likely to rise as more apps and browsers open up the ability to filter out ads.
There are fewer and fewer options for sites that depend on advertising revenue to fight back against the blockers. Having pared-down, unobtrusive ads can get a site whitelisted by some plugins (including Adblock Plus), while other sites just straight-up ask their readers if they'll turn off the ad-blocker:
It's understandable why adblockers are on the rise—nobody wants to sit through 10 seconds of nonsense before they can just watch the new Taylor Swift video already—but as blockers become more mainstream, they're beginning to really shake up the already precarious funding structure for a lot of online publishers. But it's not a total takeover yet. After all, it seems unlikely that many users will be willing to give up the time, effort, and phone space to download a separate browser just to avoid ads, especially if the new iOS will be taking care of a lot of that, so the popularity of Adblock Plus's mobile browser is yet to be proven.