Apple ad-blocking features sabotage online advertising firms


Safari iOS 11
Advertisers aren't keen on the improved Safari in iOS 11.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple’s new ad-blocking feature for Safari is sabotaging online advertising firms. Some are losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year as a result of Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP), introduced with iOS 11, which helps users avoid being tracked online.

Despite the incredible rise of the iPhone, newfound interest in the iPad, and a booming Mac business, Safari holds less than 15 percent of global browser market share. Yet new ad-blocking features introduced to users less than four months ago are having a staggering impact.

Ad firms lose millions on Safari

Criteo, one of the biggest advertising firms in the industry, is expecting its 2018 revenue to fall more than a fifth as a result of ITP in iOS 11. Its revenue for 2017 topped $730 million, but it is likely to fall by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 12 months.

Dennis Buchheim, general manager of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Tech Lab, told The Guardian that ITP would impact the entire ad industry.

Advertisers started fearing the effects of bolstered privacy features in iOS 11 when Apple first unveiled the update last June. Six advertising trade bodies signed an open letter to the Cupertino company, urging it to “rethink its plan.”

They warned that ITP risked “disrupting the valuable digital advertising ecosystem that funds much of today’s digital content and services.” Apple insisted, “it’s not about blocking ads,” but protecting user privacy in an era of ever-increasing ad targeting and tracking.

Buchheim would like to work with Apple, and the industry as a whole, to “address more robust, cross-device advertising targeting and measurement capabilities that are also consumer friendly.” But he expects Apple to retain and evolve ITP over time.

Advertisers may be forced to find new ways to reach consumers. Buchheim says “there will surely be some continued efforts to ‘outwit’ ITP.” Until that happens, we should enjoy the bolstered privacy protection while it lasts.


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