Advertising underpins about 90% of everything we see online. Even the sites where advertising seems to be magically absent are monetising our details to advertisers. But is the rise of ad blocking going to kill the internet as we know it?

The debate has ebbed and flowed for years now. Many herald the demise of the free internet: with no ads to pay for the sites we visit then the future will be paid for content from now on. Meanwhile, others claim that ad blocking will make little or no difference at all.

The new resurgence in interest in all things ad block has been caused by Apple’s announcement that from now on Safari users can block ads online just by downloading an app. Some claim it’s a cynical move by the computer giant to pump more advertising through apps and consequently its own iAd advertising platform rather than browsers.

But should we really care? My view is that advertising will adapt and survive these challenges and that they aren’t the coup de grace that the doom mongers claim. Inevitably, advertising will get faster, more targeted, improve its tracking and measurement capabilities and find new way of reaching the target audience. In addition, media owners, the sites we all know and love, will have to be less greedy, and those who have 50% of the screen taken up by ads, might have to accept that it’s intrusive and annoying and rethink their business plan accordingly.

Of course the big fear of practitioners who are wary of the latent popularity of ad blocking is that it will spread like to other platforms like Android and Windows 10. They will tell you that online publishers are doomed and, when they are no longer able to sell their readers to advertisers, the entire publishing industry will come crashing down.

But none of this is new. Way back in 2010, there were features published with scaremonger titles like, “Why Ad Blocking is devastating to the sites you love.” However, the executioner’s axe, aimed for the neck of online publishing, seems to be moving glacially slowly. In fact, for the subsequent five years there have been more people spending more time on more pages, and the economic success of online publishing has turned out to be a lot greater than the financial damage done by ad blocking.

I think that Apple’s move will hasten a few changes. Perhaps, the penny will eventually drop for brands that if they want to secure the attention of consumers they should start to produce quality advertising with proper budgets. Advertising will have to get smarter, and advertisers will have to get used to buying a decent number of impressions. Some may get blocked, yes, but a great many ads are already blocked in some way, just think how many people shoot off to the kitchen to put the kettle on during an ad break!

Published on: 11:51AM on 3rd November 2015