iPhone Ad Blocking Apps: A Lose-Lose Proposition for Shoppers and Online Retailers

Ok, this is off the SEO track but I had a client ask me my thoughts and impact on the iPhone ad blocking apps. I did some research and thought I would it share with you as well. If you haven’t heard, the latest Apple mobile iOS update includes the ability for users to add Ad Blocking applications to their iPhones and iPads. The goal is to clean up the mobile web experience from the messy onslaught of nuissance ads popping up all over the place. Sounds pretty go0d, right? Maybe from a 40,000 foot level but when taking a more micro view, it’s a lose-lose proposition for shoppers and online retailers.

The impact of the iPhone ad blockers will be terrible for both shoppers and online retailers. These ad blockers not only block nuisance ads but also greatly impact the shopper experience in a negative way. Ad blockers will not only block ads but block certain content on mobile sites. They can even block certain items you want to add to your shopping cart. The Ad Blockers will create broken links to mobile sites and block good ads that are beneficial to the mobile shopper like a 50% off sales and other discounts. You take the missing content, broken links, missing items in shopping carts, lose of special offers and you have a horrible user experience.

From a business perspective, degrading the user experience, special offers being blocked, items missing in shopping carts, etc. all leads to loss of substantial revenue. Additionally, site metrics will be ineffective as analytic tools will not pick up accurate data due to the interruption these ad blockers create.

In my opinion, I think if ad blockers become prevalent by users, you will see the major online retailers like Amazon, Walmart, etc. place pressure on Apple and their ad blocking partners to open up the filters on these apps and determine what is good or bad ads; or just completely eliminate them.

Maybe you are thinking that these developers can open up their filters but choose not to. Well you are absolutely correct on that assumption. A couple of entrepreneurially developers created an “acceptable ads” policy so that certain ads can be excluded from their ad blocking filter. Sounds like a great idea until you learn that its pay-to-play. Advertisers must pay a fee to the Ad Blocking app company in order to get placed on their “acceptable ads” list. Many ad blocking apps may go that route as well, which will only help the online retailers with deep pockets and hurt the small business operator.

One way to circumvent these apps is to make sure your ecommerce site has an app in iTunes. The ad blockers don’t interfere with apps so you can drive shoppers to the app as opposed to the mobile site. This is not an ideal solution but neither is paying multiple ad blocking app developers to not filter out your ads.

Hopefully, there will be a universal “acceptable ad policy” for all ad blocking apps and not one offs that are only based on which advertiser has the deeper pockets. These ad blocking apps in their current state creates a lose-lose proposition for both shoppers and online retailers.