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iOS 9 Ad Blocking Is More Hubbub Than Havoc for E-Commerce Marketers

Dave LeDonne

You’ve probably been reading this week about Apple’s introduction of ad blocking extensions in mobile Safari. A few expletives might have been exchanged with your coworkers and maybe an iPhone or two was thrown at the wall. As if mobile advertising wasn’t challenging enough …

Alas, we have good news to share: The level of hype around Apple’s update is probably much bigger than its potential harm. Here are a few saving graces:

There will be mass adoption of iOS 9 when it’s rolled out on Sept. 16. But the question is, what will be the adoption of the ad blocking extension? One way to get a sense of how things will play out is to look at the adoption rate of all ad blocking software, which is around 16 percent in the U.S. That could be about how many iOS users install the ad blocking extension as well. Adoption might tick up a few percentage points from there as Apple continues to generate awareness for the feature.

At worst, marketers could see about a 10 percent dent in traffic to their ads on paid channels. But that number could be high for a few reasons. Let’s look at Google Shopping as an example.

It’s too early to say whether Google Shopping campaigns will be impacted by the iOS 9 ad blocking extension. Ad blockers tend to aim at easy targets, such as display ads, whereas native ads are more of a gray area.

The Google Shopping user experience is pretty darn good. Apple could certainly take the approach of trying to block Google Shopping ads as well as Google text ads. But given that these formats have a positive impact on the SERP, will consumers really want to turn off that experience?

Another positive aspect of Apple’s news is the timing. Mobile traffic is growing fast. Google alone is now seeing more searches on mobile than on desktop. With that comes some growing pains. But any traffic that disappears now can likely be replaced quickly with shiny new traffic spurned by mobile’s growth.

So, when you sit down on Sept. 16, update to iOS 9, test out content blocking, and see that your pages are loading much faster, try to enjoy the experience. It probably won’t sink your paid marketing campaigns.

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