GoMoNews has an article on Ad blocking software causes stir in mobile industry. The article is about Ad Blocker Plus that, until now, has been used on the desktop to filter out ads and popups in the web browser.
The controversy is that Ad Blocker Plus is now available for Android and is blocking ads in apps as well as the web browser. Ads are the way that many apps are monetising.
If you look at the Ad Blocker web site you will see that the app is actually less effective than on the desktop. The functionality needs a rooted device to filter both WiFi and cellular. If non rooted it just filters WiFi. There are also some restrictions related to the Android version. Unlike the desktop version, it also needs configuration that’s probably beyond the average user’s determination. Nevertheless, this has some potential to disrupt Android monetisation.
While all this is Android-related, there are also ad blocking apps on iOS. If you are developing mobile apps, what can you do to reduce the affect of ad blocking apps?
Ad blocking on mobile works by reading the ip address of the web server being accessed and comparing this to a known black list of servers that serve ads. One way developers can circumvent this is to ensure they don’t get ads directly from the well-known ad networks. If you host your own ad server it will take a long while, if ever, for your server to end up being added to the ip black list. If/when it does get added you might think about moving or dynamic ip addresses. However, if it does get added and you arrange that your app content or functionality is at the same ip address, you can ensure people can’t use your app without viewing the ads. You will want to detect this happening and give a warning to the user that they need to disable the Ad Blocker or, for advanced users, ask them to add your ip address to the blocker white list in order to use the app.
All this demonstrates yet another example where publishing an app shouldn’t be a ‘fire and forget’ exercise and you need to use analytics to monitor and iterate.
UPDATE: Also, publish an ad-free, paid version of your app so users have a choice – thanks Michael A, for the thought!