How Are We Supposed to Make Money on the Internet Now?

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For most, the release of Apple’s iOS9 was a welcome development. From new ways to multitask to novel ways to befuddle Siri, there is plenty to love in the mobile operating system. Unless, of course, your business happens to rely on mobile advertising. Then iOS9 essentially signaled the ad-pocalypse. For the first time, the new iOS enables programmers to create apps that block ads within the Safari mobile browser.

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The International Business Times was especially alarmist with their headline, Apple iOS 9 Ad Blockers Pose Big Threat To Google, Facebook And Twitter. In other words, the Internet is, apparently, about to be over. Citing Michael Nathanson of MoffitNathanson, author Christopher Zara explains, “Mobile ad blockers could put almost a third of Google’s revenue at risk, compared with 29 percent of Facebook’s revenue and only 14 percent of Twitter’s revenue.”

Ad blocking on the Internet has been around for a long time. But now mighty Apple appears to be tacitly endorsing ad blocking as a legitimate consumer choice. With mobile ads comprising the primary revenue source for many sites and apps, lots of folks are understandably running scared.

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Innovation is not without casualties. What Henry Ford did to carriage makers Tesla hopes to do to Jiffy Lube. This raises the question of whether advertising is really that great of a business model anyway? What worked for Don Draper on the small screen doesn’t necessarily thrive in cyberspace. If the New York Times couldn’t support its business with advertising and switched to a digital subscription model, should other companies predicate their existence on such a precarious foundation? Rather than bemoan ad blockers, perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board and get serious about business strategy. Then again, this 2015 PageFair/Adobe report appears to show about 15% of US Internet users have taken to ad blocking, so reports of ad blocking breaking the Internet may be a bit premature. Scruples aside, if these ad lovers leave their passwords as “123456” and “password,” there’s some real money to be made.

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