NEW YORK: Adblocking apps used on iPhones are hitting more than just the ads, as broken links and non-functioning shopping carts have been reported on retailers' ecommerce sites and, in extreme cases, the entire site has not loaded.

Sites for Walmart, Sears and Lululemon are among those said to be affected. "Potentially [this news is] enormous," said Scott Allan, head of marketing at Pure Oxygen Labs.

"The ad tech ecosystem has been built on the idea that implementing technologies related to personalization and retargeting is incredibly easy," he explained to Luxury Daily. "Retailers have built their site operations and analytics around these easy-to-use javascript and cookie-based technologies."

But that could be about to change, he said. "In one fell swoop the ad blockers are wiping out the investment retailers have made in personalization and retargeting over the last several years.

"Even if the site can function properly with an ad blocker enabled, there's still a potential for a huge negative impact on sales," Allan added. "Marketing departments will also have less data to work with in making merchandising decisions."

He reported that when he had used the Crystal ad-blocker, the Macy's site had worked properly "but the banners for complementary products are removed". And a similar effect was evident on the Sears' site.

"Best-case scenario is that shoppers using ad blockers may click through fewer products as a result of personalized and complementary selling and ultimately the impact may be lower average order value," he said. 

The issue is especially pressing as the important holiday shopping season is fast approaching and Allan stressed that, at the very least, retailers should ensure their site is visible and that shoppers can check out.

"Then it's a matter of understanding what technologies are making the site vulnerable to a disruptive user experience when an ad-blocker is enabled and trying to mitigate that."

He also posited an alternative scenario where people realised what they were missing by using an adblocking app.

"Many consumers have gotten used to relevant, personalized content and may not want to give up that experience for something more generic," he said.

Data sourced from Luxury Daily; additional content by Warc staff