Mobile Ad Blocking Circumvention Tips

adblockplus.pngGoMoNews 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!

Host Your Own Ad Server

madserve.pngIf you are considering or using an ad-funded model, you might like to take a look at mAdserve the new open source Ad Server for publishers. The iOS and Android SDK together with open source php server code allows you to host your own ad server connecting to over 31 global and local ad networks. 


Hosting your own service means you aren’t paying a middleman for aggregation and won’t be beholden to changes in terms of service. The only concern I have is scalability. However, mAdserve claim you can achieve 100 Million monthly ad-requests on a low-end machine which is adequate for the long tail of apps.

Retailer Mobile Stores

advertisingage.gifAdvertising Age has a thought provoking article on how Retailers Worldwide Struggle to Keep Up With M-Commerce Demands.

I think the real problem is that it’s not that easy to take your existing web-based store and create a mobile version. As the article says, the UK’s large retailer such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis are creating mobile versions. However, they have large budgets. What about the large number of smaller retailers?

Up until now, most things sold via mobile are other things consumed on the mobile… games, applications, new levels etc. I see there’s a large opportunity to create a white label web-based mobile shopping store and maybe even multi-platform white label shopping store apps that sell real items and could be licensed to many smaller companies.

This opportunity is open to the giants (Apple, Google, Microsoft), existing web-based store vendors, payment providers, network operators or maybe even a new 3rd party developer. There are lots of issues not least interfacing with existing systems and payment but the first to crack these should have a very interesting and lucrative business.

Mobile Advertising Supply, Demand and Income

forumnokia.gifRobin Jewsbury has an useful post on mobile advertising on the Forum Nokia Blog. He describes his experiences of using mobile advertising and why he uses more than one advert provider to improve income.

Robin mentions the main problem with mobile advertising – scaling. Whether you are using adverts, providing them or in some mobile operations, trying to balance adverts and advertisers, maintaining ad inventory can be tricky. I have worked with some ad-based companies that have struggled to maintain this balance.

While I know some ad networks deal in adverts from other networks, many people are taking the do-it-yourself approach to try to get the best of balancing advertising supply, demand and income. I think there could be opportunities in this area for consolidation in libraries, APIs or new services.

Mobile Advert Network is Live

Earlier in the week I mentioned my new free mobile link exchange. Well, today it went live at There’s a press release at PR Log.


You can join via the registration page. New registrations are moderated but after that, new ads aren’t and are shown immediately. The Platform APIs page explains how to go about adding the links to your mobile web page or application.

Please let me know if you have any problems or new ideas. The Mobile Advert Network is something I want to slowly evolve and refine over time.

Mobile Link Exchange

Logo110.jpgOne of the problems I continually see is that mobile sites and applications have problems getting noticed. They get users but not enough to make them financially viable. This got me thinking how to leverage existing users to get more users.

In my spare time, as a hobby activity, I have been working on a mobile link exchange. It allows text links to be placed on mobile web sites or within applications. Each request for ads returns two ads. Showing someone else’s ad gets you a credit for displaying ads on yet someone else’s site or application. So, for every view by your end user, you get up to two ads shown on other sites or applications.

I am looking for a few people to try it out. It works on wml, xhtml, iPhone, Symbian, Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile. In fact, it’s possible to swap ads on one platform for ads on another. It’s also possible to target ads by country and network operator.

The system supports static mobile web pages, via javascript, where end users have javascript available. Alternatively, I have examples for use from php, cgi (perl), jsp, classic asp, c# (.NET) and vb (.NET). I also have tips how to integrate into the various mobile platforms or use the HTTP GET or POST API.

I’ll post another time on how it was built. I had to think carefully about supporting lots of requests per second as well as serving ads very quickly. I wasn’t able to use CGI (php or perl) nor conventional databases.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in being one of the first people to give it a try, free of charge (the final service will also be free), then please contact me at explaining who you are and a bit about your mobile site or application.