iOS ad blockers might be messing with your online shopping

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Roberto Baldwin
September 25, 2015 8:36 PM
iOS ad blockers might be messing with your online shopping

Ads pay the bills for a lot of sites (including this one). But they can also be intrusive and with some of the tracking abilities available out there, a bit creepy. To combat some of that and to speed up page loads Apple introduced a Content Blocker feature for mobile Safari that allows third-party developers to create extensions that are "a fast and efficient way to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other content." Apparently people really hate advertisements on the internet because ad blockers have rocketed to the top of the paid app section of the App Store. But the side effect of at least a few of these apps is that it screws up shopping on the online versions of Sears and Walmart. Fortune talked to the developer of Crystal, an app that's messing with some shopping sites. After they informed him about what was happening, he said he would remove the sites from a blacklist. But, during our test, we were still unable to get to some product pages on to load. So, we decided to test some more online shops to how much commerce is being thwarted by a hatred of ads.

As expected the online Apple store worked flawlessly. But it wasn't the only ecommerce site to keep plugging along ready to take your money even with an ad blocker installed. worked just fine and I almost ended up with a new shredder. worked, but we were presented with a pop to take a survey which seems like the kind of thing Crystal should block. Mega-site Allibaba worked great as did Amazon. Target on the other hand wouldn't load individual product pages or the cart. Macy's worked but also loaded a survey pop-up. Buying a Nexus device on the Google store seemed to be going well until it was time to check out and everything came to a screeching halt because you can't get to the cart. Crystal isn't the only content blocker that stops users from buying stuff.


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Another ad blocking app featured in the top paid charts, Purify Blocker, while offering more options (like whitelisting sites) had nearly the identical effect on the shopping sites. Sites like Amazon worked flawlessly, while Walmart and Target crashed and burned. Actually, with Purify Blocker some of Target's pages presented a blank screen. Even after whitelisting the page, it still made shopping on impossible because nothing would load. On the plus side, I was able to get to the Google Store checkout page with a Nexus device even though that I would be foolish to buy anything branded Nexus at this point.

So if you're trying to buy a new sweater or phone online from a retail site and nothing seems to work, it's probably a good idea to turn off that content blocker you added to Safari.

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