Apple_iOS9_Ad_BlockerApple’s newly released iOS 9 update includes a mobile website ad blocking feature that has many companies worrying about the impact it will have on their ad-based revenue models. Even after only a few days, these ad blocking apps are at the top of the “Most Downloaded” lists. It’s a phenomenon that indicates aggressive online and mobile advertising has resulted in pent up frustration among consumers.

While ad blocking provides users with clear benefits, including faster browsing, reduced data consumption and better privacy protection, there is a huge potential downside for businesses that rely on revenue generated from ads. Consequently, this could eventually be detrimental to consumers too.

The web has flourished as a resource for free content, or more specifically content funded by advertising, but could ad blocking signal the end of the free web? We may see more pay walls in the future such as subscription services, or perhaps more ads inserted directly into content.

Another way in which ad blocking negatively impacts businesses is by creating blind spots in marketing analytics. Ad blocking doesn’t only block ads; it blocks content. This means that it can block cookies, images and autoplay images tied to tracking scripts that follow consumers around the web.

Businesses depend on these tracking scripts to collect information about which sites customers visit and the pages they spend time viewing. This data is vitally important for advertisers as they create relevant, personalized content and offers for their audiences to increase revenue, brand affinity and loyalty. With significant numbers of audiences essentially becoming invisible online and on the mobile web, analytics data becomes less useful to companies seeking to drive meaningful customer engagement.

As businesses respond to the changes, we will likely see an increase in other approaches to tracking users and personalizing the customer experience. Another possible shift we could see is more companies empowering customers with choice. Instead of relying on tracking data, organizations may need to work harder to engage directly with their customers as individuals and facilitate an ongoing dialogue around product and service interests as well as communication and offer preferences.

The larger question underlying Apple’s new iOS 9 ad blocking technology is how brands can future-proof themselves from disruptive changes. This certainly will not be the last new roll-out of a game-changing technology. In fact, as innovation accelerates, we will witness disruptions more frequently. Businesses will need to be more proactive to avoid being caught off guard and placed in a reactive position that could result in obsolescence.

In this video, UnboundID CEO Steve Shoaff and VP of Marketing Derick Townsend talk about the implications of ad blocking on businesses that depend on ads and analytics for revenue.

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