Dissension Brews in the Android World over Ad-Blockers

by Matt Klassen on February 9, 2016

ad blockIt seems there is some dissent in the Android world over the presence of ad blocking software, as Samsung’s decision last week to open up its mobile web browser to ad-blockers was met this week with Google’s decision to begin removing select ad-blockers from the Google Play store altogether.

There’s an interesting dynamic at play here, as within the Android ecosystem itself we are starting to once again see two major players who make money in vastly different, yet undeniably symbiotic ways, going head-to-head, with Samsung now working to improve the user experience on its devices (where it makes its money), with Google responding with efforts to maintain its own revenue stream, advertising.

Not only that, but this entire Android family feud, as it were, is couched within the larger issue of mobile advertising and the exponential rise of ad-blockers, as a full consumer revolt against intrusive, annoying, and generally pointless advertising continues to brew.

According to reports, the popular blocker AdBlock Fast, one of the first blocking services to take advantage of Samsung’s newfound openness, was removed from Google Play entirely, while another, Crystal, was reportedly not allowed to update its own mobile ad blocker, with Section 4.4 of Google’s TOS cited in each case, which not surprisingly bars developers from releasing apps that interfere with “the devices, servers, networks, or other properties or services of any third party including, but not limited to, Android users, Google or any mobile network operator.”

But while this seems to be Google working to counteract Samsung’s recent embrace of ad blocking software, there is evidence that this brewing dissent is all smoke and no fire, as analysts are quick to point out that Google is less concerned about ad blocking on the mobile Web than it is with the far more lucrative in-app advertising, which so far remains unrestricted.

Simply put, while advertising that interferes with mobile Web browsing is annoying (and should rightly be blocked), that isn’t where most advertising is seen. “Ad blockers are for the mobile Web. Users spend most of their time in applications, where there is still no ad blocking,” Gavin Dunaway, senior editor at AdMonsters, explained, adding, “As long as there’s no ad blocking there, I don’t think Google is all that concerned.”

That’s not to say that Google is taking ad-blockers lightly, as the company sees such services as a threat to the company’s bottom line.

“Advertising is how you pay for Android,” tech analysts Rob Enderle told the E-Commerce Times. “If you put up an ad blocker, from Google’s perspective, you’re ripping off Google.”

“When you decided to use Android, whether intentionally or not, you’ve agreed to consume ads to pay for this free operating system,” Enderle noted. “This is Google making sure you pay what they think you should pay.”

It’s interesting then that in a world where Samsung is still so inexorably linked to Google and its Android advertising revenue stream, that the Korean tech giant would open up its arms to ad blockers, a move that strikes me as yet another nail in the once ironclad relationship between these two Android partners, one that will eventually see Samsung (if it can get its own house in order) go out on its own.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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