How Apple’s mobile ad-blocker could backfire on the company and iPhone, iPad users

“Criteo is in the business of selling targeted display ads. Its particular speciality is luring customers back to shopping sites they’ve just left,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune. “When the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was bringing ad-blocking tools to its mobile browser — enabling iOS developers to suppress things likes cookies and pop-ups — investors fled Criteo.”

“Jefferies rates Criteo a BUY, [analyst Brian Pitz], came to the company’s defense. Most people don’t use Safari, he points out. And most people don’t use ad-blockers,” P.E.D. reports. “Then he goes further.”

In a worst case scenario, this is Apple against the entire mobile publisher and advertiser ecosystem; not Criteo itself. If browsers start negatively impacting publishers’ abilities to monetize their mobile content, it may trigger a backlash where certain sites are “not optimized for use with Safari.” — Jefferies analyst Brian Pitz

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Somewhere there’s a happy medium in the land of free-to-visit websites, where the ads support the publishers’ operating costs (and even – gasp! – some profit) and actually work for the users (you find a good deal on an SSD drive, for example), yet don’t bombard the user with too many ads, ads that are too intrusive, offensive, or annoying. At MacDailyNews, we’re working diligently to get there (more info here) and we thank you for your support!

Hopefully, Apple’s tools can assist users in getting better experiences without harming their favorite sites and there is never anything even remotely close to the backlash the Jeffries analyst describes above “where certain sites are ‘not optimized for use with Safari.'”

(MacDailyNews is a independent website. We’re not owned by a large corporation. Without our advertisers, we wouldn’t be here. As always, thank you so much for visiting and for your support! We really appreciate it!)


iOS 9 lets app developers make ad blockers for Safari – June 10, 2015


    1. It won’t be nice if certain sites are “not optimized for use with Safari.”

      It’ll be a mess – like the bad old days of sites optimized for Internet Exploder.


      Block too many ads and you’ll kill your favorite sites (like MacDailyNews, for example) or you’ll force things like inescapable interstitials, banned browsers and worse everywhere. Be careful what you wish for!

      1. Plenty of sites ate still not optimized for Safari. Their loss, since the best potential customers for any retailer that wants to sell products are Apple users .

        1. Block too many ads and you’ll kill your favorite sites (like MacDailyNews, for example) or you’ll force things like inescapable interstitials, banned browsers and worse everywhere. Be careful what you wish for!

          1. Thanks, Philip. I’m sure none of this occurred to Apple until you brought it to their attention. I’m sure they haven’t thoroughly discussed how to implement this in a useful way. I’m sure they have a single staff person sitting in a broom closet who makes random decisions about how their most core software is going to work.

          2. Perhaps the solution is for ALL ad-blockers to allow a white-list function to allow only the sites the user wishes to see ads on be exempt from ad-blocking.

      2. It’s also up to the advertisers to exercise restraint instead of treating browser space like a tacky wild west free-for-all billboard. Ideally in their view the space would be 100% ads which no one would tolerate.

        The optimum AD-TO-CONTENT ratios are certainly not all equal and often excessive with auto-play ads really obnoxious, hence the situation we’re in today of users just wanting to shut them all down in one easy action. This lack of respect for users who retaliate by blocking they’ve totally brought on themselves.

    2. yes they are. apple doesn’t have the most mobile devices, but as has been pointed out lots of times, they have the most mobile devices owned by people that actually spend money.

    3. I see a lot of vitriol from certain users that make me think that they are the ones using ad-blocking software indiscriminately, consuming a lot of bandwidth for which publishers like MDN have to pay, and when it’s pointed out that they are in fact thieves who are stealing from their favorite sites, they get all irate in order to suppress their guilt (if they even have that capacity) or in a weak attempt try to defend the utterly indefensible.

      Note: I run ad-blocking software. I have MDN whitelisted along with my other favorite sites that I wish to continue to be able to visit and therefore support.

      1. I didn’t ask for MDN or anyone else to post information on a web page. Your idea that they are doing me a favor for which I should be grateful is ridiculous. There are thousands of stock market information sites competing for my attention. I don’t have to kiss anyone’s ass in order to peruse “their” content. What you put up on a web page is your business. Whether anyone looks at it or not is their business.

        If you can offer ads for goods and services in such a way that it doesn’t drive away people who have a choice of web pages to view then good for you. When you become an obtrusive asshole about it people will either block your ads or quit viewing your website. Owing something to the advertiser is the mindset of the Android user.

  1. The problem is that many web sites are basically not functional due to the loading of ads and the use of popups. One prime example is a financial one called Bidness Etc. Going there is like playing a video game and is harder to deal with on portable devices, especially the iPhone.

    The point is that many sites have gone too far in their quest to serve up ads. At some point, enough is enough.

  2. MDN’s take is spot-on because they understand the problems from first hand experience. They have to operate in such a way that the bills get paid, but they also have a very vocal and tech-savvy readership. MDN knows how overly intrusive advertising annoys readers and obviously they don’t want to drive people away or have readers blocking absolutely every advert.

    Like most things in life, it’s not a black and white, all or nothing deal. Site owners need to strike a sensible balance so that the site is commercially viable and the readership keeps coming back. In return, those visiting the site should accept that a certain amount of advertising is needed if you’re going to get free content.

    Apple’s mobile ad-blocker sounds like a great concept because users can stipulate what level of intrusiveness is blocked. If an advertiser discovers that a high proportion of the readers block their content, they may ( although I wouldn’t bet on it always happening ) think a bit more carefully about how their adverts are perceived by users and adopt a less annoying approach.

  3. When I signed up for internet service, nowhere did I ask to be digitally stalked nor was it ever listed as a feature. I am of the opinion that non-consensual digital stalking by cookies and transparent pixels and all the rest are as illegal as bank robbery and have no sympathy for these digital trolls for hire.

    I pay for my internet- not these morons and I pay subscription fees to sites like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Economist, The Atlantic and others. My Comcast service gains me access to Showtime Anytime and HBO Go. I have no problem paying for content.

    As to the rest: Fsck ’em. I hope they all dry up, blow away and go to where the sun never shines.

    1. You pay your ISP for Internet service. Your ISP doesn’t pay MacDailyNews, for example, for helping to make the Internet something to which you desire to have access in the first place. Enjoy your “Internet service” without millions of sites like MacDailyNews which you obviously “hope dry up, blow away and go to where the sun never shines.”

  4. First thing i do is turn on popup blocker and get something like adblockplus to help! Everyone else I know does it too for the most part. I hate ads, they make browsing the internet terrible and slow and crash your browsing! I also only use Safari!

        1. Look up the definition of thief. I used the word correctly.

          Anyone who enjoys an ad-supported site and continues blocking ads is stealing.

            1. You describe actions the user must manually take each time to ignore the commercial. The ad-blocker works automatically.. Sort of like why ad-skipping functions were outlawed on video-recorders while the fast forward remained.

      1. So you put a couch on your front lawn with a sign that says “Free!!! Please take me!”, and then when someone actually takes it and doesn’t think to leave you a donation they are a thief. Very logical.

        1. The example would be better if you also had an ‘ad’ sewn on to the sofa. Still free but the new owner must spend the time to acknowledge and remove it.

  5. This site is probably one of the ones that prompted me to get an ad blocker. Turning it off and checking this page, of the 10 ads on it one ad is on it 3 times!

    1. mxnt41,

      You are a thief.

      I see you posting on articles here. You obviously visit the site. Why do you think it’s yours for the taking? Do you think it’s right to have MDN excerpting all of these article and providing interesting and fun takes to each along with a vibrant forum? Do you think that costs nothing to operate?

      1. Wrong. Web page authors don’t get to decide what I do with the content they deliver to my computer. I am free to ignore any portions of that content I wish, and there’s absolutely nothing they can do about it – as it should be.

        1. The ease with which MDN or any site could identify your use of ad-blocking software and turn off potions (ability to comment) or all of the site would surprise you. MDN chooses not to do that, even while you continue to consume their product without contributing jack shit.

          1. You have it backwards. I’m doing MDN a favor by reading their content and commenting. I don’t need MDN. If MDN went away tomorrow I would simply visit a different site. If all stock market analysis sites evaporated overnight there would be more independent, non-advertising forums on this topic and others. I belong to several such forums where the discourse is of a much more technical and informed nature. MDN is simply more entertaining at times.

  6. This . . . .The problem is that many web sites are basically not functional due to the loading of ads and the use of popups.
    They also put demands on the hardware, and eat up my data plan. Sorry advertisers, but you suck for bogging down my computer gear.

    Off topic but related . . . . . When I signed up for internet (make that phone) service, nowhere did I ask to be stalked . . . .and harassed by phone solicitation.

  7. @MDN – any thoughts about offering a premium (paid for) level of membership with no ads? I’d sign up as long as it was: a) reasonable (although to be honest I’ve no idea what you’d need to charge to make up for lost ad revenue); and, b) worked across all platforms (‘cos I really hate those Google ads on the iOS app).

  8. People have to learn that free is not free. You have to be willing to pay for the services that you deem to be of value. How and how much? Those are the bug questions.

    I certainly don’t like the idea of having to subscribe to dozens of different sites. That’s why bundles exist, even if they are not optimal for anyone. And most sites should be free – they are trying to sell me something or extract information that they can sell to others. Either way, I am not willing to be monetized twice.

    I don’t know the answer. Ad supported sites are generally OK, as long as they do not shift towards the excessive end of copious junk ads to gain revenues. Those sites end up taking too long to load and navigate, and it also costs on the data side of the equation if you do not have an “unlimited” or high-cap mobile plan. MDN has been heading in this direction for a while. I also despise the sites that include trick buttons that do not do what you expect, or sponsor malware ads that you cannot avoid without quitting out of Safari.

    This is related, although a bit off-topic – i also consider the “freemium” app model to be total crap. It is reasonable to desire a fair profit for the development and support of a quality app. It is not reasonable to ask for a $99.99 in-app payment to take you a little further through long, potentially never-ending app. Even the very best computer games never cost that much in the past, and you got the complete game for $60.

    1. The reason sites are piling on more and more intrusive ads is because of the ad-blocking. Most of these smaller sites are barely able to continue functioning, they’re not buying Maseratis. By the way, MDN has cut ads by more than half this year. Whitelist them. Sites like this deserve to continue operating.

      1. Bullshit. If your business cannot continue without tons of junk ads on your website, you deserve to fail, IMO.

        I decide what I see on my computer screen – not you. My computer, my rules.

        1. I don’t understand why you just don’t stop coming to the site if it has no value for you which you are willing to compensate the site owner for via ads on the page.

  9. Tendencies to think ads are bad are rooted in a misconception about how people find out about “things” and “places.”

    In the old days it was the newspaper, Penny Saver and Yellow Pages. Now, If you need something you don’t buy all the time, where do you get that item?

    We locate items with search on the Internet, but you may not want to drive 20 miles to ABC Lumber. Is there a closer site or one with lower prices? Hence, I see the value in these adds when we click on something we like or a website oriented to what info we want.

    What I don’t understand with MDN is this: Why are the photo adds mostly concerned with scam fads, sex and skimpily clad girls? Why not use an ad service that caters to Apple software and hardware components?

    1. It may be the case where MDN has no control of the specific ads being shown. They only have control of what ad provider company to use and sadly this is the ‘best’ of the choices available to them. Does anyone know if MDN (or parent company) has an ad sales department that would offer more control of the types of ads shown?

  10. i head up tech for a $150m ecommerce company that has 50 million unique visitors per year.

    43% use Safari. I think they are forgetting about adding in mobile browsers. 18% of visitors are desktop Safari users.

    Apple, please buy Duck Duck Go and provide us with the safest, most secure and private tech usage on the planet. I love what you’re doing. Would love you to extend that to search beyond the great stuff with spotlight and Siri! They are awesome by the way!

  11. Let me see if I have this right…

    A LOT of people are just pissed off by ads.
    They regard them as intrusive and deceptive.
    They don’t want to see them.
    They’re not going to look at them anyway.

    Therefore, they are NOT potential customers. (At least, the vast majority.)

    And a function that allows them to block those ads is a problem?

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