Estimates for the global financial damage inflicted on web publishers as a result of iOS support for technology which prevents several forms of online advertisements from being seen is being brought into question by a new report.
A research note from analysts at financial services group UBS has labelled claims of ad-blocking tools like AdBlock Plus, Crystal and Purify entering iOS 9 and causing a loss of revenue in the multiple billions as overblown.
Forecasts from the group estimate the impact on global ad takings to be “only” £655 million ($1 billion).
This is not only a small chunk out of the £88.7 billion ($135.42 billion) generated from online advertising last year, according to PwC, but much lower than Adobe’s initial loss prediction of $22 billion from August.
The iOS factor
UBS has its reasons for predicting a much lower total than some of those that have struck fear into publishers, who will inevitably suffer when advertisers fail to pay for display ads that get blocked.
For one, the impact from Apple allowing ad blockers to work with its Safari browser on mobile is being branded as limited in the grand scheme of things.
That’s because although Safari gathers a 55% share of US mobile and tablet traffic, according to StatCounter, its global share is only 27.6% – second to Google Chrome on 28.9% and Android at 18.1%.
Apple has also halted ad blockers from being able to work with apps, meaning the billions generated by ads on these titles will be protected.
Exiting the mainstream
Other reasons for a lower damage estimation include a lengthy set-up process for such tools and the fact that only users of Apple’s 64-bit devices, including the iPhone 5S and iPad Air 2, will be able to use ad blockers with iOS.
Users of 32-bit devices like the iPhone 4s and iPhone 5C will therefore see ads on their screens for some time yet.
But ad blockers will still hit some websites pretty hard, warned UBS, with certain tech-focused publishers that attract likely users of ad-blocking software set to be in the firing line.
Mobile sees only a portion of the losses as a result of ads being blocked, with desktop ad-blocking catching some serious figures for adoption.
Adobe and Pagefair estimate the global cost of ad blocking to be $41.4 billion by 2016.
Join us next Monday (September 28) for the start of Ad-Blocker week – a five-day festival of content weighing up the pros, cons and debates surrounding one of the most disruptive and controversial technologies going.