Thanks to Apple’s release of iOS 9—and content-blocking capability on Safari—ad blocking is a hot topic. Announcements like these can work the industry into a frenzy, and for good reason: When Apple announced that Unique Device Identifiers (UDIDs) were deprecated, it was a major disruption. Yet there are plenty of times when breaking news is simply hype and might not have an immediate, or even significant, impact. Let’s better understand the effects that this change may have on marketers, then discuss how best to prepare.

First, some key facts about ad blockers:

  • Ad blocking is not new. In fact, it’s been available on desktop browsers for over a decade and on Android since its launch in 2007. The advertising industry has nevertheless continued to flourish.
  • The content-blocking capability that Apple released works only on Safari. By default, Safari does not accept third-party cookies, so the total ad inventory available on Safari has always been low.
  • AdRoll network data for the past few months shows that there has been no significant negative impact on ad requests since the iOS 9 release. In fact, total ad requests continue to grow at an expected trajectory.

While these facts show that iOS 9 content blocking isn’t a huge threat to advertisers, ad blockers nevertheless have a broad impact on the industry as a whole.

Ad blockers can be particularly detrimental to publishers—and, in turn, to the consumers who rely on and enjoy those publishers’ sites. Thanks to the announcement, there is growing awareness of and appreciation for the value that advertising provides.

  • Ads help publishers stay in business. Ad blockers prevent websites from getting revenue from hosted ads, since the ads can’t display. What many don’t realize is that smaller publishers end up suffering twice: not only do they lose revenue when ads are blocked but they also often can’t afford to pay the required fees to get their ad spaces unblocked by these ad-blocking companies.
  • Ads ensure open access to content. If publishers can’t make money from ads, then they will be hard pressed to continue offering content for free. According to Forrester, 80% of internet users would not pay to access publications online, so the trade-off of ads and access to content affects everyone. After the creator of Peace, a content-blocking app, realized its negative effect, he removed it from the Apple App Store. Only 15% of Americans have decided to install ad blockers.

Now that we’ve taken a realistic look at the potential impact, let’s balance that by taking smart precautions against any potential disruption. At AdRoll, our primary focus is protecting advertisers. While we can’t anticipate future changes in the industry, we do have important checks in place to safeguard our advertisers.

  • The way we count impressions protects advertisers. There are two ways to count an impression for billing: server-side counting, where an ad impression is counted when the ad is served, regardless of whether the ad can display successfully; and client-side counting, where an ad impression is counted only after it loads fully on a page. AdRoll counts impressions and charges advertisers based on the second scenario—the ad loading fully. Therefore, if an ad is blocked via an ad blocker, then the ad didn’t load successfully and AdRoll doesn’t charge the advertiser.
  • We don’t overwhelm users with ads. First, we use frequency caps. We’re making controls available to all advertisers so they’ll have more influence over user experience. Second, our algorithm automatically reduces bids with each subsequent impression if a user doesn’t respond. This helps ensure that we don’t continue to deliver ads to people who aren’t interested.
  • AdRoll offers a mix of inventory from many platforms. Since we offer a variety of inventory sources, like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Instagram, it reduces reliance on a single platform and allows our advertisers to diversify. We have also made cross-device reach a priority.

Let’s look at one final concern that’s been keeping advertisers up at night: If you’re a marketer who’s worried about the recent news saying that ad blockers will cost $1 billion in lost advertising revenue, we agree with Business Insider when they say that these fears might be exaggerated.

Still, we believe that there is huge potential for positive change to come from these announcements. We hope that these developments result in better-quality ads, ensuring not only a richer experience and incremental value for users but also fresh opportunities for continued growth and success within our industry. And we’ll be standing by our advertisers every step of the way.

To stay up to date on the latest industry news and trends, subscribe to the AdRoll blog today!: