Last week Apple announced a new feature for its Safari browser which doesn't seemed to have garnered much attention, but which could turn out to be the most important announcement made at WWDC 2017.
The next release of Safari will prevent advertisers following you from site to site using Intelligent Tracking Prevention. That means when you search for something tangible, like a service or product, you won't be seeing ads for the damn thing for ever after.
Together with Google's promise to build ad blocking into Chrome and we see that the turning point for web browsing has finally arrived. Content providers are going to lose access to advertising because the advertisers are going to lose access to consumers. Unlike previous third-party blocking extensions, which will require a small amount of effort to enable, Chrome will enable these by default, preventing the bulk of users from ever seeing adverts.
Advertisers and content providers have had plenty of warning and have failed to do anything to clean up their act. Now the only recourse open to them is to block users from accessing their content. That's hugely counter-intuitive for an industry which relies on eyeballs.
Google intends to follow Adblock's position that acceptable ads should be allowed, however it's unlikelt that it will follow AdBlock and AdBlock Plus and allow users to disable this feature, which will no doubt eventually prompt users to switch to alternative browsers or use a Chrome extension.
That's because Google has a vested interest in keeping the internet ad block free. The whole chain from advertiser to publisher to consumer benefits Google more than it benefits anyone else. Faced with the collapse of its largest revenue generator Google appears to have finally mobilised its forces to try and head off a potential disaster.
The question is, has it left it too late?