However, Google’s mission to “make the internet safer” has taken a serious dent thanks to a new iOS 9 feature that effectively blocks its ads – a move that has Google telling developers to switch off HTTPS if they want to see their cut of the ad share.
Google just got ad blocked
That’s right, Google just got ad blocked by Apple and that’s hitting the biggest name in search right where it hurts. Android dominates the global smartphone market share (over 80%), but Google makes no real revenue from smartphone hardware or the Android OS itself – that all comes from mobile ads.
So you can see why the biggest name in online advertising would be a little upset when its closest rival effectively blocks its main source of income. To put things into context, here are the numbers according to Goldman Sachs:
- Google makes roughly $12 billion from mobile search alone
- 75% of which is generated from iPhone and iPad users
- Online advertising as a whole contributes to around 90% of Google’s annual $66 billion income
That gives you an idea of how big a deal this is for Google, who has enough to worry about with the rise of Facebook advertising and other rivals in the mobile game.
Google’s mini HTTPS U-turn
As you would expect Google can’t sit still and let precious ad revenue draw blank on all Apple devices running iOS 9. Its first move has been to ask developers to switch off HTTPS for iOS 9 app development.
“While Google remains committed to industry-wide adoption of HTTPS, there isn’t always full compliance on third party ad networks and custom creative code served via our systems,” explains Google’s Tristan Emrich.
Security is important. But ads are more important. So ignore security and privacy for now. Right…. http://t.co/nrholUU7sH
— Thomas Verschoren (@tverschoren) August 27, 2015
Money talks, ads influence
So Google isn’t wavering in its commitment to creating the safer web it promises us, but there’s certainly room for compromise when its ad revenue is on the line. In Google’s defence, it has limited control over how third-party networks encrypt their ads and it will take time for the full HTTPS switch to happen.
Apple has taken a strong step in the right direction (albeit at Google’s expense) but that looks like being undermined by Google and advertisers alike. After all it’s not only Google who misses out when ads don’t display, but app developers as well, which will help influence the decision to shun HTTPS on iOS 9.
The good news for advertisers is you have a workaround and you can guarantee Google will do everything it can to ensure its ad revenue (and your cut) continues to roll in.