To the delight of most iPhone internet browsers, the latest Apple iOS version caters for apps designed to filter out advertising from browsers, the same way many desktop browsers use ad-blocking filters with their browsers.
One unfortunate side effect for retailers, however, is that one of the most popular new ad-blocker apps makes a mess of many retailers’ mobile sites.
Fortune reports that e-commerce software company Branding Brand tested popular ad-blocker app Crystal on an iPhone, and found that mobile sites of major retailers were missing elements key to an online retail experience; more than just megamenus or the oddly non-functioning image zoom, but whole product images, even product prices. Specific examples include certain products available through Bass Pro having no product images or prices, customers being unable to add products to a shopping cart with Walmart, and Sears‘ entire homepage refusing to load at all. These missing features are all tied to specific webpage scripts that Crystal blocks along with its usual hitlist of advertising material.
“This upcoming holiday season, content-blockers are going to cause a lot of problems,” Branding Brand CEO Chris Mason told Fortune. “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.”
While Crystal’s creator has pledged to look more closely into what webpage elements his app allows and block, but this development is still particularly alarming with a major sales period like Christmas, or more worryingly in America Black Friday, fast approaching. Any performance analytics company will tell you that a website so much as loading in any longer than three seconds will see a potential customer find a competitor and never look back; imagine what they will think of a website they think is broken. Mix in just how many people will be shopping on their mobiles over the next few months, and retailers are quickly realising they might be in a whole lot of trouble.
While a little bit of elbow grease could bring most of these problematic websites back up to scratch, there isn’t much time left to address the problem.
“Retailers can work around it on the consumer side by doing a lot of recoding, but a lot of them freeze their codes on November 1, ahead of the holiday shopping season,” Mason said. So that gives them just over a month or so to get it done.”