Is Publisher Ad Revenue at Risk or Safe After WWDC 2024?

WWDC and what is means for Publishers

Publishers were relieved with WWDC24, as Apple did not announce a new content blocker that would be built into Safari for the iOS 18 update. It is uncertain whether this is due to completely scrapping the new tool or delaying the feature due to outrage amongst publishers.

The tech giant did announce a new way of viewing web pages called “Reader,” drastically streamlining content and removing distractions. This could pose larger problems for publishers than the concept of a content blocker.

What Are the Changes to Safari?

The speculated Content Blocker does what it says on the tin; it essentially blocks all content that the user does not want to see. It would not have affected any other page aspects that the user does not want to be blocked out.

It comes on top of Apple aiming to increase the privacy features and utility that comes with Safari. There was a bit of confusion as the tech giant has not officially announced the feature yet, but it was revealed by AppleInsider.

The latest confirmed feature in Safari, “Reader,” allows users to view articles more easily, essentially taking out any distractions. A user will click a section at the top of their Apple device, where they have the option of viewing a summary or viewing the article as if it were a document with pictures, no other distractions, a table of contents, and a summary as well. This new feature was confirmed by Apple at WWDC 2024.

Safari introducing new features that could affect ad revenue for Publishers

Why a Cause for Concern

The content blocker caused concern due to how allegedly easy it would have been to block content, with users able to choose between ads, text, or images with the touch of a button. The most obvious use of this feature would be to block advertisements, a common source of revenue for publishing groups.

Apple’s “Reader” raised questions regarding whether advertising will be shown in the alternative page view, causing a problem for publisher ad revenue. Some may see the new version of viewing web pages as a different version of the content blocker. It is not a wrong assumption to presume users may use the reader function to block out monetisation methods optimised by publishers.

Are Publishers Becoming Tired of Ad Revenue Obstacles

Publishers have constantly needed to adapt to changes in the advertising ecosystem. Google appears to keep releasing different information regarding third-party cookie regulations, which can heavily influence CPM and hence publisher ad revenue. It was thought by many that the third-party cookies phase-out would have been more aggressive than the current situation.

Apple may have chosen a bad time to have information regarding both features swirling around, as publishers are already starting a revolt against Google. Many UK publishers have acted against Google, with a court case on the horizon which could land £13.6 billion for publishers.

Is It the End of Publisher Ad Revenue?

Apple’s “Reader” will not cause significant harm to ad revenue as it is a singular browser, however, it certainly poses problems. Only time will tell whether the new “Reader” feature will see a decline in publisher ad revenue, depending on usage foremost.

Apple's Reader

It could be safe to say that if we do not see any developments on a content blocker, ad revenue will still be a strong revenue stream for publishers.

Is There a Solution to Both Features?

Once again, the content blocker was not announced at WWDC 2024, so there is no rush to create a solution yet. However, our team is preparing for the scenario of a content blocker as best as we can, forming ideas for a solution using the limited knowledge we have.

Regarding Apple’s “Reader” tool, once it has been released, we will have a greater understanding of what we can do to help publishers. The B2 team is looking into the possibility of showing ads despite this feature, but only we may have to alter our current technology.

For now, publishers will have to hope no further developments occur with the proposed content blocker and see how Apple’s “Reader” plays out.