In September 2015, Apple plans to launch a new iOS operating system with built-in ad blocking. A significant number of mobile web ads – as distinct from Apple's own iAds, which, of course, are immune from the software – could never reach consumer eyeballs as a result.
Global spend on mobile display ads rose by 88% from 2013-14, reaching $15.1bn, according to a recent report by UK trade association the Internet Advertising Bureau. At the same time, the cost of ad blocking is predicted to reach $41.4bn by 2016, according to research by software company Adobe and anti-ad block start-up PageFair. Clearly, there is a crisis ahead for mobile marketers.
Guillaume Lelait, general manager of US mobile agency Fetch, agrees. Writing for US digital media agency Digiday, he said: "The time has come for the banner ad and pop-up advertising to settle into retirement." For Lelait, non-intrusive ads – sponsored content, native content, video campaigns, or formats still to be dreamt up – are the way forward.
"A report examined by Fast Company shows that Instagram has the most engagement and the highest conversion from browser to shopper," he wrote. "It notes '92 per cent of luxury brands that post an average of 5.5 times a week on Instagram increase their customer base'."
There is a savvy, anti-ad audience out there who are still willing to engage with brands on mobile – but it has to be on their terms, and via non-intrusive content that makes sense in the moment. For more on mobile strategy, see our latest State of Mobile: Summer 2015 report.