Why marketers should be more worried about Apple than Google when it comes to ad blocking

Both Apple and Google are introducing new ad blocking tech, but it is Apple’s focus on retargeting and making an ad-free experience part of its premium positioning that should concern marketers.

Advertisers were met with a double whammy at the beginning of the month when both Google and Apply outlined new plans to block ads.

The changes at Apple take effect in its Safari browser. They mean pre-roll ads on videos will no longer auto-play and that tracking will be automatically disabled so advertisers can no longer use cookies to track them across different websites.

Meanwhile, at Google, its Chrome browser is getting a built-in ad blocker that will block all ads on a site (including its own) if they don’t meet the standards set out by the Coalition for Better Advertising.

READ MORE: Auto-play video and pop-ups named among the most ‘annoying’ ad formats

The issues with autoplay

Auto-play video with sound has been at issue for some time, with many consumers finding the ads invasive and irrelevant. According to the Coalition, consumers rate auto-play video ads as among the most annoying on desktop and mobile.

And the IAB says its welcomes the moves and any changes that promote better digital advertising.

“Google’s move quickly puts weight behind the stance set by the Coalition for Better Ads following the release of their better ads standards,” a spokesperson for the IAB tells Marketing Week.

The changes will mean marketers will have to find new ways to grab their audience’s attention. However, Alessandra Di Lorenzo, chief commercial officer of media and partnerships at Lastminute.com, believes this offers a better experience for consumers and an opportunity for marketers to “up their game”

“While people are happy to engage with content that is relevant and useful to them, serving ads that don’t tick these boxes can be ineffective at best, and reputation-damaging at worst,” Di Lorenzo says.

’Stick with us’, Apple is saying, ‘and we’ll make sure nobody can poke their nose into your internet experience’

Phil Dyte, iProspect

“There’s no need for marketers to be concerned about these latest changes from Apple and Google. Instead, they should focus on upping their relevance game, using a combination of data and creativity to ensure they are delivering the right content to the right people at the right time – and in the right format.”

Di Lorenzo says marketers should focus on the use of data to do this and should continue to move in the direction of native, which she says offers a more seamless user experience by blending advertising and content with data.

Why Apple is the bigger concern

However, not all are convinced by Google and Apple’s approach. Phil Dyte, strategy director at digital agency iProspect, highlights how the two approaches are very different, with Google focusing on format, while Apple goes after targeting. He says in theory Google should only worry “unscrupulous” ad tech companies who are building “bad, disruptive ad experiences” and that the industry will welcome this.

However, he says Apple’s efforts are more concerning as it isn’t promoting ad blocking as a user benefit but as a marketing business tool, by making privacy part of its premium image.

“’Stick with us’, they’re saying, ‘and we’ll make sure nobody can poke their nose into your internet experience’,” Dyte says.

“This is all well and good – but users will still see ads, just less appropriate ones, so I’m not sure it helps anyone outside the minority of super-privacy types.”

Apple’s move is also problematic because it has the potential to affect all players in the digital ecosystem, apart from Apple itself. This will make it more difficult for its rivals, including Google, that rely on advertising for their business models and retargeting to drive revenues.

“This probably won’t impact Apple too much. Nobody is going to not buy an iPhone because they might get worse ads. But if it works it will have an impact on everyone, except of course Apple,” Dyte adds.

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