The Unintended Consequences of Ad Blockers

By September 30, 2015Dave’s Articles, Insights

Has Apple’s agenda gotten in the way of their QA? According to an article last week in Fortune, if you’ve updated to iOS 9 and downloaded one of those darn ad blocking apps then more than likely you’re running into problems fully rendering ecommerce sites. Fortune discovered that many users have been experiencing everything from missing product photos, to the inability to add things to their carts, to not being able to complete purchases on their mobile browser from companies like Walmart, Sears, and Lululemon. Apple being “and rightfully so” the top echelon of QA, apparently didn’t take the time to fully proof their software with these ad blocker apps. It makes one wonder what is their agenda or if they ever really cared about the apps working properly in the first place. The owner of Peace didn’t think so! But the infamous word in Silicon Valley is disruption or was it power?

On top of the apps not functioning properly, their creators are also using their precarious position of power as a toll road or “highway-robbery checkpoint” (See the IAB’s Randall Rothenberg’s piece on ad blocking) as they allow the above companies to pay a fee to still show their ads or un-blacklist their sites. Of course, only the ads they deem “acceptable” will show up. Why didn’t they design their apps to do that in the first place—since punishing the group on the actions of a few bad apples—seems appropriate? Oh wait, I remember why again—toll roads are a greater source of revenue. I think Al Capone used them. (See Boardwalk Empire)

An important caveat about all this ad blocking business is that only 10-20% of a mobile user’s time is spent in an open browser while 80-90% of their time is spent in apps, which aren’t currently affected by ad blockers. But, the way things are going, perhaps it is only a matter of time until they make an app for that too. Hopefully, contractual oriented minds will decide the legality of apps blocking features of other apps before they’re released. In the meantime, advertisers could switch their platforms over to the new “Apple News” where they’ve set up a 70-30 split of profits to leave ads alone. Funny how QA works. Maybe they are really just Google ad blockers.