Apple’s Ad-Blocking Feature Is Sending Publishers Scrambling

Apple’s Ad-Blocking Feature Is Sending Publishers Scrambling

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus. (Apple Photo)
(Apple Photo)

(Bloomberg) – Seth Weintraub has made a career of reporting on Apple. His website, 9to5Mac.com, is one of the go-to places for news about the company. But in an ironic twist, a feature tucked inside Apple’s latest software for the iPhone and iPad threatens to undermine the way his site makes money.

IOS 9, which is set for a Sept. 16 release, will allow owners of Apple’s newer mobile devices to download Web browser extensions that can block advertising from being shown while they browse the Web. The prospect has set off alarm bells at many media companies, but Apple extended an olive branch in the form of an app within the upcoming operating system called News, which will allow publishers to bypass blockers to serve their own ads or let Apple sell ads and share the revenue.

For Weintraub, whose blog gets about 60 percent of its traffic from people browsing on iPhones or iPads, Apple’s ad-blocking option has led him to consider new business models to make up for lost advertising revenue. His website is starting to focus on selling more sponsored content, a newer form of advertising popularized by Internet publishers, such as BuzzFeed, in which advertisers pay for articles. Weintraub is also exploring adding more links that steer people to buy products on websites such as Amazon.com, allowing 9to5Mac to collect a fee when somebody makes a purchase. “We’re looking at steps to counter” ad blocking, Weintraub says. “There is a lot of indication that people are looking forward to using ad-blockers on mobile devices.”

Computer browsers have allowed the use of ad-blocking software for years, but it’s been growing in popularity recently. More than 198 million people worldwide actively use ad blockers, according to a study released in August by Adobe and PageFair, which makes ad-blocking software. At least 20 percent of 9to5Mac’s readers use an ad blocker when visiting the site from a PC, Weintraub says.

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