iOS 9 ad blockers could ruin your online shopping experience

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Before and after adblockers. Notice any difference?
Photo: Sears

One of the big innovations of iOS 9 was the ability for Safari users to download and take advantage of content blockers.

According to a new report, however, ads may not be the only content that is blocked by apps like Crystal. Online retailers such as Walmart, Sears and Lululemon are also seeing their e-commerce sites negatively affected by adblockers — with some crucial features failing to work as before.

“This upcoming holiday season, the vast majority of e-commerce dollars will come through mobile devices,” said Chris Mason, CEO of Branding Brand, a company that powers various mobile commerce sites and apps.

“But content-blockers are going to cause a lot of problems. First, the experience for customers will be lessened. Lots of sites will be missing content, have broken links or customers won’t be able to add certain items to their shopping carts. They’ll probably just think the site is broken, but it’s really their content blocker. Second, retailers will be data-blind, or at least data-dark. It will really impact their ability to make quick judgments.”

Examples like the above image show what can happen to sites when they are viewed on an ad-blocked iPhone. In other cases, ad blockers make it impossible for customers (or would-be customers) to add products to shopping carts, while also hampering the effectiveness of Google Analytics and Adobe’s Omniture, which retailers use for real-time insights about customer behavior.

Personally, from a user experience, I’m all for ad blockers provided they work properly — despite what it potentially means for sites like this one, which rely on ad revenue to keep going.

It seems there’s still a way to go until all the glitches get ironed out, though.

Update: As a number of readers have pointed out, a long press on the refresh button will allow users to reload pages without the ad blocker. That’s obviously not an ideal solution compared to finding a way to properly discern between advertisement and useful chunks of content, but it is at least a temporary workaround.

Source: Fortune