In this week's Retail Roundup, Blueleaf MD Rob Smith delves into Apple and ad blockers. Not sure what they are? You should know, because ad blockers have the potential to crash your site! Watch our short, advice-driven video to find out what you can do to save your site.

We've transcribed this video below, in case you prefer to read than watch. You can also catch up on any bits that were especially interesting to you:  

Hi, I'm Rob Smith, MD of Blueleaf and today I'm going to talk about Apple and Ad Blockers. 

Apple are doing so much within the mobile space at the moment that is really affecting ecommerce. Most recently, iOS 9 brought out Ad Blockers. A little piece of kit, essentially an app, that you can download from the app store. You install it on your phone, as long as it has iOS 9, and it will block ads from websites. Sounds simple and actually very useful but the main issues are that when you install one of the most popular ones like Crystal it's not just that the ads don't appear, but it completely stops the site from rendering. That's what seems to be happening at the time of recording on the Sears and Walmart websites over in the US. I'm pretty sure there'll be sites that are affected in the UK too.

The biggest thing about this is that the consumer might not know it's happening. They might install the ad blocker, think it's doing its job, visit the website and see the site is broken. They won't know what's causing it and may just leave the site, never to return. 

One problem is that you can see the sites don't look great, so we need to fix this. However, it is a short-term issue. Ad blockers will get smarter at assessing what's good and what's bad and we'll also do some work on our sites to make sure they fix themselves. However, in the short-term it is a pretty major issue, especially as we're coming up to Black Friday and Christmas. So do take a look at your site, install Crystal and see what's going on.

So that's one problem but the big problem, in my view, is that these ad blockers strip out things like google analytics and any other tracking tools that you've got on your site. They'll also get smarter and smarter at stripping these things out, causing a massive data black hole. Our analytics tell us that iPhone dominates mobile traffic. So if lots of people install the ad blockers we won't be sure what those people are doing on our sites or even if they've visited our website. That's a really big deal for us analytics users! So we've got to really consider what this means for our data - are we going to get a skewed version of our mobile data? Will we make decisions based on data that's just plain incorrect? When it comes to other tools like Monetate, will these tools get stripped out too and leave the standard experience? Do we now need to consider what comes back to the server and rely less on these JavaScript based tools?  

So Apple is doing a big thing here and I wouldn't be surprised if Android aren't far behind, if they don't have tools already. Apple really push their updates hard, someone could update their phone and not realise that the ad blockers are in play. This could be a big problem for data long-term and in the short-term it could be breaking your site. 

I hope this video has given you some helpful food for thought. Thanks for listening. 

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