Apple iOS 9 ad blockers’ threat to digital revenue means ‘content becomes king’

Experts say targeted and tailored content is key as Apple gives users the option to switch off ads
Sidebuy CEO Mona Akhavi’s web-based platform curates content from fashion bloggers and directs readers to buy from client clothing companies | Credit: Rob Kruyt

It’s not kosher to walk up to a urinal and glance to either one’s left or right, says Jean-Guy Faubert.

“So you look straight ahead of you and what do you see?” the CEO of Vancouver-based Tagga Media said. “You see an ad.”

But what if a captive audience suddenly has the chance to break away from those ads? People are already doing it on their TVs and their desktop computers, and, as of last week, Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) is allowing ad-blocking apps to run on its latest operating system (iOS 9) for mobile devices.

Ads integrated into feeds on mobile apps like Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) or Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) won’t be affected. But websites that once relied on digital ads from mobile users could be faced with shrinking revenue as owners of more than one billion iOS devices begin figuring out how to block ads on the Safari browser.

“What you’re going to see is an evolution of ad delivery where content becomes king,” Faubert said.

Instead of banner ads, he believes more digital revenue is going to come from personalized content that drives readers to buy products and services from certain brands. That means a greater emphasis will be placed on collecting user data to ensure they’re tailoring content toward the interests of specific markets as opposed to general audiences, according to Faubert.

For instance, Levi’s reached seven million eyes by using photo-sharing social network Instagram to post pictures of beautiful outdoor landscapes in November 2014. The photos also featured people wearing the iconic jeans. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of people who saw an ad more than once reported recalling a Levi’s ad, according to a report from the apparel company’s digital department.

“The brand’s logos aren’t plastered around everywhere in an uninviting way,” Faubert said. “It’s more tailored around the experience on the content that’s being shared.”

Sidebuy CEO Mona Akhavi said Internet marketing can’t be about reaching the masses.

PHOTO: Tagga CEO Jean-Guy Faubert | Credit: Rob Kruyt 

“You’re going after that small segment of the market that’s really targeted, contextual and really wants to read that content.”

Her Vancouver-based company has developed a platform that works as an exchange between brands and fashion bloggers. Apparel companies looking to promote their brands can link up with Sidebuy’s network of fashion bloggers to drive consumers to their retail websites, while the bloggers are in turn paid for the content they create on their own blogs.

“The successful brands and companies and content generators will be the ones that really do this matchmaking,” Akhavi said. “They have to think out of the box. Banner ads will not work anymore.”

But Jesse Till, social media co-ordinator at Chatter Buzz Media, said it would be premature for digital advertisers to panic.

“Though at a glance it looks menacing and may take a financial hit, there are still more effective and efficient ways to go around this.”  He added that improved search engine optimization and stronger social media presence might be the future of advertising for some organizations.

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