Ad Blockers on iOS

As you’ve probably heard by now, Apple’s new OS allows for ad blocking extensions: consumers (at first) cheered, media companies protested, and then everyone started testing to see what this would do to the UX of the largest companies’ mobile sites. Fortune broke the news this past week that “an iPhone enabled with Crystal — the top paid iOS app right now – is unable to fully render the e-commerce sites of many major retailers, including Walmart, Sears and Lululemon.” Issues ranged from slight content glitches to being completely unable to add a product to a cart at all.

Also interesting is that the ad blockers will significantly lessen retailer’s visibility into exactly what consumers are doing. Data will be much harder to collect because, as Fortune reports “ad-blocking technology also can strip out back-end code like Google Analytics or Adobe’s Omniture, which provide retailers with real-time insights into customer behavior.” With more and more people making purchases on mobile devices and increasingly via IOS, these ad blockers are setting off major alarms.

However, the obvious silver lining here is that non ad monetization will go unharmed. What remains to be seen is what will happen with the holiday season approaching- will all these retailers recode their sites, petition Apple, contact the makers of the ad blocker apps and pay to be taken off the blacklists? Amazingly, just a few days after Fortune published its article, Sears’ mobile site was working quite well and the maker of Crystal could not be reached for comment on the fix. Are the Ad Blockers simply a toll both (you pay them to protect you, right up until companies pay them to unblock their ads) or are they actually providing a worthwhile service to Apple users? The holiday season should be very telling on all fronts.

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