Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

iOS 9 Content Blocker Benchmarks

Dean Murphy:

What started off as a one page experiment has since evolved into a full product I’ve worked non-stop on over the past 60 days. I thought it would be a good idea to revisit my original post with Crystal, to show how different the mobile web will be with content blockers. […]

On average, pages loaded 74% faster with Crystal and used 53% less bandwidth. Just by having Crystal installed, I saved a total of 70 seconds and 35MB of data on these 10 pages.

I’ve been testing Crystal for a few days now and it’s almost like getting a faster phone and web connection with a single app installation; I imagine this will be a similar reaction to most content blockers. It’s kind of remarkable what a difference is made just by blocking the kinds of scripts that track you across the web. Since new versions of iOS typically have a high adoption rate, I think this will be a real headache for the targeted ad industry. It will likely pressure them into making changes to their business model, or getting sneakier with how they embed these scripts.

Update: Everything about content blockers being baked into iOS must be unnerving for web publications that are dependent on really crappy ad exchanges. I think it’s lazy to blame non-paying readers for this situation. While it’s true that this has given rise to websites that fill pages with CPM ads, nobody said that they had to be targeted, or that these scripts had to become increasingly more sophisticated (and, as a result, more resource-intensive). Nobody said that web publications needed to stuff a dozen analytics scripts into every page either.

Let’s be optimistic here and consider the possibility that ad and analytics scripts will improve. They’ll have a smaller resource footprint, and publications will use fewer of them. Will readers notice? I don’t think it’s likely. Plenty of people will discover and install content blockers, notice the improved browsing experience, and slowly forget that they’re installed. What then? Are they supposed to occasionally disable their content blockers to see if scripts are still awful? Once bitten…