The digital advertising doomsday clock

THE LATEST TICK of the clock counting down to publishers’ Digital Advertising Judgement Day came on Monday, when Apple announced at its annual developer conference that a forthcoming desktop version of its Safari browser will block the annoying autoplay ads that appear on many Web pages or before online videos.

The news doesn’t present a doomsday scenario for ad-supported media on its own, as Safari is used by only a small slice of internet users. But it comes just days after The Wall Street Journal reported that Google, one of two behemoths in the digital advertising game, will give publishers six months’ notice before unveiling a default ad blocker on its hugely popular Chrome browser next year. Facebook, meanwhile, has kept up its steady stream of directives on how publishers can best satisfy its mysterious algorithm.

Such moves signal tech giants’ growing willingness to dictate the terms and conditions of the advertising market they overwhelmingly control. Facebook and Google’s dominance of display and search advertising, respectively, has helped them capture more than 60 percent of domestic digital ad spending, according to eMarketer.

Some analysts even estimate that the two companies draw upward of 75 percent of all new digital advertising spending, sparking talk of a duopoly with which publishers will be even harder-pressed to compete going forward.

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