Cheetah Mobile bet big on native ads a few years ago, and the surge in interest in mobile ad blockers around iOS 9 might brighten the app maker’s future considerably.
Apple recently opened the door for apps that block display ads in iOS 9’s Safari mobile browser. Native ads blend in with the other content in an app or mobile site, however, and mobile ad blockers can’t touch them.
“You cannot block native ads,” said Cheetah Mobile senior vice president Djamel Agaoua during a talk at Eniac Ventures’ M1 conference Tuesday in San Francisco.
“So for us it’s the best news ever.”
Advertisers and publishers might become far more interested in native ads if they find many of their display ads are being blocked.
Cheetah Mobile has flown beneath the radar, but, in fact, it’s one of the biggest app developers in the world. Cheetah apps (like Clean Master and CM Launcher) have been downloaded 1.6 billion times, and, according to Agaoua, monthly active users number 495 million, as of the end of the second quarter.
Cheetah sells native ad space within its ads, and also operates a mobile ad network that connects advertisers with publishers selling native ad space.
In short, Cheetah is very likely the biggest player in native ads, behind Facebook and Twitter. So the Chinese company’s position on the subject carries some weight.
And Agaoua believes mobile display ads should be blocked. “I hate to feel the aggravation of all these ads everywhere,” he quipped.
Agaoua’s philosophy is that mobile is a new medium, and publishers need to invent new ways of engaging consumers there. They can’t just borrow old methods used on other mediums, like the desktop computer, he said. “The vast majority of brands think that mobile is just the twin brother of the web.”
Native ads are simply friendlier to users, Agaoua added. The click-through rates of native ads are eight to ten times that of display ads.
When big retail, automotive, and luxury brands begin to learn how to create and deliver native ads on a big scale, Agaoua believes the native market “will explode.”