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What is behind the boom in mobile adblocking?

The launch of iOS 9 introduced fully-native mobile adblocking to millions of users for the first time, and they voted with their feet. One specific ad-blocker, Peace, a $2.99/£2.29 app developed by Instapaper creator Marco Arment, is the number one paid app in the UK, US, Australia and Canada, while two others, Crystal and Purify, are in the top-ten in a number of countries.

But there’s a lot of confusion over what the blockers can and can’t do, how to enable them, and what Apple’s role is in the whole thing.

The big change in the latest version of iOS 9 is the introduction of “content-blocking extensions” in Safari, the browser that ships with the mobile operating system. But although Apple has opened the floodgates to the extensions, it hasn’t done anything directly to block ads on new iPhones.

Unless a user actively downloads a new app, such as Peace, Crystal or Purify, they will still see just the same adverts as they always had done.

Indeed, Apple has been careful not to specify which content the extensions are used to block. It doesn’t refer to its new tools as “ad” blocking, but just “content” blocking, and explains to the developers that the feature gives “extensions a fast and efficient way to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other content”.

When explaining the benefits of blocking content, Apple has focused on two specific aspects: speed, and privacy. Both are only tangentially related to adverts, instead being a function of the technology that underpins modern “programmatic” advert sales, which is how the vast majority of web ads are sold.

 

Read more at:

What lies behind the boom in mobile adblocking? | Technology | The Guardian.