My latest column in Forbes takes the Apple’s decision to add ad-blocking primitives to iOS 9 as an occasion to look at the fast-growing phenomenon blocking ads in web browsers, and specifically to compare it to online copyright infringement.
Both developments lead to revenue losses for content publishers. Both are occasioned by technological tools that make it easy and (in most cases) free for non-tech-savvy consumers to do. And both have engendered cottage industries of technologies that attempt to combat the phenomena. The article deals with the revenue models for such companies and the industry factions that are lining up on the sides of these debates.
The upshot is that ad-blocking is not a “Big Media vs. Big Tech” issue; it is more accurately described as a “Big Media and Some of Big Tech vs. Other Big Tech” issue. In particular, Google — which earns over 90% of its revenue from ads — is not a big fan of ad blocking. The trade associations that are addressing the ad-blocking issue appear to be learning lessons from the Copyright Wars by trying to establish best practices for online advertising that, if adopted, could avoid technological arms races.