Ad Blocking and the Future of Mobile Advertising – An Interview with Tomer Hen

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The introduction of an ad blocking function to Apple’s latest iOS version has sent the mobile advertising market into turmoil. The new function, it was claimed, would prove to be the bane of mobile advertising and the internet ecosystem. The fears and predictions of an upcoming “adblockolypse” were further strengthened by the overwhelming popularity of the new ad blocking apps, which made it to Apple’s top 10 most popular paid apps chart within hours after iOS 9 came out. By the end of the first week after the launch, the 10 most popular ad-blocking apps were downloaded nearly 600,000 times combined.

We took this opportunity to sit with Tomer Hen, founder of MobCo Media, and discuss the effects of this seemingly paradigm-shifting development.

Apple’s new ad blocking feature has sent a spread of panic among mobile advertisers and publishers. Do you feel it is justified?

Apple’s move is indeed significant, but I believe it is important to put things into perspective, as the actual effects are quite limited. The ad blocking function is limited only to Safari mobile-web browser users on Apple’s devices. As a study by AppsFlyer recently showed, we’re talking about a share of roughly 14% of iOS devices’ mobile ad clicks, and less than 3% of the total amount of mobile ad clicks. Thus, the potential decline in mobile ad clicking numbers due to Apple’s ad blocking apps is quite low. In addition, this feature will probably remain limited to Apple devices only. Google has too much at stake in the mobile search and display advertising market and will likely refrain from allowing any ad blocking features.

That being said, I believe that it should serve as a wake-up call for advertisers and agencies. It shows that users are fed up with the abusive, attention-grabbing, and unimaginative ads that clutter and clog up the mobile web. Advertisers need to rethink the ways in which they design their ads and approach their audience. Mobile ads must become less obtrusive and better integrated – both contextually and visually. They should enhance and empower the mobile web – making it a more personalized and useful consumer experience.

How is MobCo Media, as an agency for mobile apps, handling this development?

MobCo Media has always been more about engagement than downloads. We know that bad ads bring nothing but low retention and unengaged users. We invest much effort in optimizing ad placement and perfecting contextual integration in order to make sure that ads don’t interfere with user experience. This is where our expertise in mobile advertisement comes into play the most – in hand-picking mobile-optimized ads and delivering them to the right audience in the right context. In addition, we continue to focus on premium in-app traffic, which is not affected by Apple’s move.

What suggestions and tips can you give to advertisers looking to advertise their mobile apps, who are worried by the recent development?

First of all, work with experts. Don’t try to manage all your marketing efforts in-house. The mobile app market is a very competitive market, and it just got even more complex. This is why it is important to use experts and to employ companies who excel and specialize in mobile marketing.

Focus your targeting on in-app traffic, and on other iOS browsers to avoid having your ads blocked by Safari’s ad-blocking feature.

Last, consider the context in which your ads will be shown. Make it work with the website and the users and not against them. Be creative and try to avoid antagonizing your audience by refraining from using obnoxious, generic ads.

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