Ad:Tech – The Continuing Dilemma

Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and got some nice rest and relaxation. I wanted to start Monday off with an interesting post regarding ad:tech. For those unaware, ad:tech has been around for quite sometime now, and has become very popular in mobile. Anything ranging from the simple banner ads you see when you visit a mobile website to video advertisements playing in the background, mobile advertisements have become part of our everyday mobile life cycle. However, just recently, the state of ad:tech has become a lot more popular thanks in part to Apple’s recent iOS 9, and its new api allowing for 3rd party ad blocker apps (I’ve linked a great TheNextWeb article discussing it). Since Apple’s new release of iOS 9, the debate on ad blockers has been an ongoing discussion between many tech journalists, VCs, and tech enthusiasts. The reason for this is because mobile ads have become more disruptive than good. What do I mean by this? Well, here’s a perfect example: Have you ever visited a site on your mobile device, and just thought ‘WOW why is this crap loading so slow?’ – That’s most likely due because of some shady ad serving going on the in the background. Due to this ‘shadiness,’ it’s essentially affecting your entire browsing experience. I’ll give you an even better example. A few weeks back, I came across a great article via Rob Leathern (a guru in the ad:tech space) on Twitter, called “The Mobile Video Ad Lie” – linked for you to read. In his post on Medium, he showcases his 5 minute experience from visiting one mobile website, What happened was that he experienced a slow and sluggish web browsing. This was because of the crazy HTTP calls that were happening from his visit – thus causing him to overuse bandwidth. To learn more, I suggest you click on the link above.

Screenshot from Rob's post on Medium

Screenshot from Rob’s post on Medium

Fast forward a few weeks later, the dilemma continued. This time, it was a mobile app install hijack via a link from a well-known news media company, Mashable. Again, I found out about the hijacking thanks to Rob. When Rob clicked on the mobile link to an article on Mashable via Twitter, it immediately redirected him to the app store to download a certain app. See the Tweet below to see what I am referring to:

I tested the link myself, and indeed, it redirected me to the the Apple App Store to download the same exact app as seen above. It was crazy to see this happen, so I decided to dig deeper and learn. According to Rob, what was happening was that Mashable’s link was being hijacked by an API call that was redirecting anyone who clicked the link to the app store. Basically, pirating advertisements. Rob even tried to dig further and figure out who was responsible for the hijack API, and of course, the WHOIS domain registration was set to private. Mashable’s web team was alerted thanks in part to Rob. However, Rob’s great findings have opened the door to a very real problem that’s existing in mobile ad:tech today. This is probably why Apple along with Google, have begun to really focus on combating this issue. Hence, Apple has officially allowed third party developers to upload ad blocking apps onto the app store.

Since iOS 9, there’s been nothing but debates going on in terms of ad:blockers/ad:tech. Some are arguing ad blockers will eliminate revenue for those who earn money off of advertisements, such as bloggers, journalists, and etc,. While others are counter-arguing that it’ll be more beneficial than harmful in the long run. Tech journalists, VCs, entrepreneurs, and others a like, are all chiming in their thoughts and opinions regarding the state of ad:blockers/ad:tech. It seems that content is going to be key as more and more users become aware of ad:blockers and start utilizing them. There are a bunch of ad:blockers currently available in Apple’s App Store. I for one use Crystal, and suggest you try them out. It’s made a world of a difference for me in my browsing experience via iPhone. With the continued ad:tech wars ongoing, it comes to no surprise that the top app currently on the App Store, is none other than an ad:blocking app (See screenshot below).

Current App Store Top Chart

Current App Store Top Chart

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