Monday, August 31, 2015

Apple will allow users to block ads with its next mobile operating system (iOS9); could disturb Internet content business models

Apple plans to allow users much more capacity to bloc ads on mobile devices with iOS9, a development which rankles some publishers as well as Google, according to a “Business and Tech” story in the Wall Street Journal today, August 31, 2015, by Daisuke Wakabayashi and Jack Marshall, link here (paywall).

The blocking would happen for normal websites viewed through the Safari browser (usually reformatted to be mobile-friendly). However Apple won’t develop the “content blocking” software itself;  it will come from developers, and will require separate app installation (the closing circle) by users (which may make it less likely that a lot of users will actually skip the ads). Apple won’t allow secondary content blocking within apps, because it says ads don’t compromise device performance inside apps as much as it does during normal browsing. But Apple seems to get a bigger cut of ad revenue from apps.

My own experience is that sometimes pop-ups are very disruptive on news sites, and can interfere with getting to news stories even on apps (like television station WJLA).  Why I know that they support the “free content”, they hardly ever work in persuading me to buy anything.

On blogs, on mobile devices, however, they are usually one-liners at the top of the screen space, and cause no problems.

Still, the ability of service providers to continue offering “free” user-generated-content platforms could be compromised, to the extent that ad service and consumer response actually supports the business models behind these services.  Even so, in my own experience, the majority of “free standing” blogs on Blogger or Wordpress don’t serve ads.  

“Do not track” also can interfere with Internet business models, but it doesn’t interfere with serving ads, just with the specificity of how they target users.

In general, these developments could affect valuations of Internet companies and have some effect on the overall stock market – while everyone watches China and the Fed right now.

My own “revenue” from this capacity has gone done in recent years, largely because most consumers who would relate to the ads have been getting more of their news from Facebook and Twitter than they had been ten years ago. That is not very significant to me in terms of my own overall personal finance (you’re talking like “.01 percent”), but it could matter to the credibility of my work, that it can somehow support itself.  Some content publishers, in user forums, say that ad revenue is very important to their own financial stability, and niche bloggers (as I have noted) sometimes can make a living off of it, or even sell commercially successful blogs to media companies. (“Blogtyrant” has talked about this.)

In general, I may look at some restructuring in 2016, as I do think there are long term questions about stability of the environment I use.  But I’ll get into detail on that later. But, in the mean time, how much in life is really free? 

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