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Platform Pulse: Apple tries to kill mobile Web advertising

After a brief respite, it was another big week for mobile platforms, with a bold move from Apple to block ads on the mobile Web while Twitter extended its messaging capabilities in an attempt to hold onto users and drive its monetization strategy. 

Apple said last week that it will introduce an ad-blocking feature to the Safari mobile browser for iOS 9. Since Apple?s iAds appear in iOS apps, they will not be impacted, but a potential significant number of mobile Web ads - most of which come from Google - could be blocked if users turn on the extension. 

?The most significant industry news of the week is that adblocking will be integrated into iOS 9,? said Dirk Rients, founder/CEO of Mobile Ventures. ?What this means is iOS developers can create extensions for Safari that can block cookies, images, pop-ups, and other content.

?With all of the privacy concerns around mobile, Apple continues to promote that they 'are not in the business of collecting your data,?? he said. 

?The news is significant as a majority of mobile Web traffic is coming from Apple's iOS.

Apple?s walled garden
How big an impact Apple?s ad-blocking strategy will have will depend on how many users adopt it. Already, consumers have embraced ad-blocking on desktop and Apple?s news is just the latest example this year of the growing momentum behind ad-blocking on mobile. 

In addition to the ad-blocking strategy, last week Apple announced new content services, native apps for the Apple Watch and deep-linking for apps, all of which suggest the company is focused on finding ways to keep users within the iOS universe, thereby enhancing opportunities to deeply understand customers and drive the relevancy of brands? marketing efforts. 

One piece of news from last week with implications for mobile marketers is that deep links will be built into iOS 9 ? which will debut in the fall - enabling apps using Apple?s APIs to surface their content in iPhone search results. 

Apple also unveiled its long-anticipated Apple Music service, combining a personalized streaming service with live radio and social networking for $10 per month  

A News app is a new interactive service, providing a personalized feed based on a user?s reading preferences. Articles from a variety of sources will appear in magazine format, with users able to swipe to move to the next story. Publishers will keep 100 percent of the ad revenue of ads they sell for stories in the News app. Apple will sell other ads with publishers getting a share. 

Apple also moved its mobile payments aspirations forward significantly with the news that Passbook will be renamed Wallet and, with iOS 9, loyalty cards as well as store cards will work with Apple Pay. 

Twitter?s makeover
With Twitter?s growth stalling of late and brands less convinced of its marketing potential, the platform needed to make some big changes, which were delivered last week. 

The company is obviously hoping  to regain some if its mojo by bringing back co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey as interim chief executive following the departure of Dick Costolo. The question is whether Mr. Dorsey, who is also the founder and CEO of mobile payments company Square, will reinvigorate the company similar to what Steve Jobs accomplished with Apple when he returned to the company several years after having been ousted. 

On the other hand, Twitter may be in need of some outside vision to help it remain relevant in the quickly evolving mobile space. 

The news with the more immediate impact for marketers is that Twitter is planning to remove the 140-character limit for Direct Messages. Tweets will retain the character limit. Developers will need to take some steps to ensure that their applications and services can handle the longer format messages. 
Direct Messages enable Twitter users to communicate privately with one or more people and support photos, links, emoji and Tweets. 

Messaging apps are one of the big mobile stories this year as they continue to gain users and extend their services, bolstering their potential as marketing platforms. Twitter removing the character limit on Direct Messages suggests it does not want to be left out of this burgeoning opportunity. 

Facebook commerce
The social media giant said last week that it has expanded a small test of buy buttons in the News Feed to more merchants on the Shopify platform. Users can click on a button in a merchants? promoted post to complete a purchase without having to leave the News Feed. 

Buy buttons on social media are quickly gaining steam, with Pinterest, Twitter and others testing them. 

For retailers and brands eager to leverage the significant amount of time and sharing that is being spent on social media to drive sales, there are some challenges presented by these growing options. For example, it will be important to maintain a consistent brand experience not only across channels but also among different social networks as well as loyalty programs triggered by a variety of payment options.

While marketers should keep a close eye on the developments at Twitter and Facebook, Apple?s news is likely to have the bigger near-term implications. 

"IOS9 is a clear marker of Apple?s intent to deeply understand customers and provide more personalised offerings,? said Carl Uminski, chief operating officer and co-founder at Somo. ?Contextual enhancements have made iOS and WatchOS more intelligent and proactive, allowing brands to create more relevant and engaging mobile experiences for a targeted audience.?

Final Take?
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York