New software blocks all ads on mobile

26th November 2012

New software blocks all ads on mobile

Adverts on mobiles could become a thing of the past after the company behind the world’s most downloaded online ad-blocking software announced plans to launch a mobile version of its product.

Eyeo, the owner of AdBlock Plus, will launch a version of its popular software for Android phones on Tuesday in a move that will cause a headache for the fast-growing but still embryonic mobile advertising industry.

Till Faida, co-founder of Eyeo, said: “This will be the first app to remove all adverts on your phone. There is a great need for it.”

The mobile version of AdBlock Plus will block adverts both on the mobile’s browser and in other apps, whether Facebook or Angry Birds. Its launch will heap further pressure on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, who have struggled to gain revenues as their users shift to mobile.

More than 50m people have downloaded the PC-version of AdBlock Plus, which blocks pop-up and display adverts on websites, as well as the unskippable adverts that precede videos on websites such as YouTube.

While only 2 and 3 per cent of internet users have the software installed in the UK and US respectively, the program has proved extremely popular in Germany, where more than one in 10 use it. Across the world, AdBlock Plus is downloaded about 100,000 times per day.

At its current usage levels, the software is not a problem for the advertising industry, according to Ian Maude, analyst at Enders Analysis. “If 5 to 10 per cent of the audience adopted a tool like it, that would cause some problems,” he said.

While worldwide revenues from mobile advertising alone hit $5.3bn in 2011, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, AdBlock Plus has been criticised for reducing the revenues of websites that provide content for free.

Nick Stringer, director of regulatory affairs at the Internet Advertising Bureau in the UK, said: “We need to recognise the economic role of advertising in funding services and content [online]. That is absolutely critical. Products like AdBlock undermine that business model.”

Mr Faida, who has a background in online marketing, insists he is not against adverts per se. “There should be a sustainable middle ground that users can accept,” he said. “Ads should provide value. There’s a great threat to online advertising in general – people have negative views of it.”

Almost half of adult users ignore retargeted adverts – which follow users around the web based on their browsing activity – while a fifth claim they would stop using a product if it had an annoying advert, according to a recent survey by YouGov for Mediasyndicator.

Spyro Korsanos, chief executive of Mediasyndicator, argues that the advertising industry should focus on providing users with relevant ads to combat ad-blocking software. “We don’t want to deliver ads to people who don’t want to see them, but we don’t want our customers to miss out,” said Mr Korsanos.

AdBlock Plus has a so-called “whitelist” of websites with unintrusive adverts, such as Amazon, whose adverts are not blocked. It is not possible to buy access to the “whitelist”, according to Mr Faida. “The main goal is to make sure that the small publishers and bloggers are not harmed by ad-blocking, so they can continue to provide their content for free,” he said.