The perils that Apple’s ad-blocking extension in iOS 9 inflicted on digital publishers has been well–documented, but one lesser-known impact of those ad-blockers is that it can cause problems with retailers’ ecommerce sites. According to Fortune’s hands-on experiments, multiple major retailers’ digital sales channels would be negatively impacted when popular iOS ad-blocker Crystal is enabled.
The damage varies from site to site: Sears and Walgreens would have an entire webpage wipes out, whereas mobile sites of Lululemon and Walmart lose functioning online shopping carts with Crystal enabled. This is likely a result of some retailers using ad servers as part of their web platform to aid in retargeting, which in turn caused adblockers to wipe out their actual content. What’s more, ad-blockers can also strip out backend shopper behavior-tracking codes like Google Analytics or Adobe’s Omniture, which some retailers rely on for real-time customer insights.
What Brands Need To Do
Just as digital publishers have to get creative and move towards social and native ads in order to deal with the rise of ad-blockers, retailers too need to make it a priority to update the backend of their sites to prevent their web content from being misidentified as ads and getting blocked. Moreover, retailers should consider exploring social commerce enabled by buy buttons or, if resource permits, developing their own branded mobile apps, which the ad-blockers don’t affect, to offer customers a truly controlled mobile shopping experience.