An hour with Safari Content Blocker in iOS 9

Dean Murphy does a comparison of iMore.com before and after iOS 9 content blocking was enabled.

With no content blocked, there are 38 3rd party scripts (scripts not hosted on the host domain) running when the homepage is opened, which takes a total of 11 seconds. Some of these scripts are hosted by companies I know, Google, Amazon, Twitter and lots from companies I don’t know. Most of which I assume are used to display adverts or track my activity, as the network activity was still active after a minute of leaving the page dormant. I decided to turn them all off all 3rd party scripts and see what would happen.

After turning off all 3rd party scripts, the homepage took 2 seconds to load, down from 11 seconds. Also, the network activity stopped as soon as the page loaded so it should be less strain on the battery.

Here’s iMore’s Rene Ritchie’s take:

To answer the obvious questions, yes. Everyone here and at our network, Mobile Nations, saw it. Everyone here and at our network were also well aware of it, and have been working for months already to improve it. That we haven’t made it further, faster is an indication of how hard it is when you’re talking about websites visited by tens of millions of people, and companies that employ more than a dozen writers. Of course, everyone here is going to continue working to find better, smarter ways of solving the problem, because that’s our jobs. I’m sure other large websites are doing likewise.

This is an interesting and non-trivial issue. If we completely block ads, the advertising revenue that pays folks who write for sites like iMore is impacted, if not eliminated. As nature abhors a vacuum, some other mechanism, immune to this type of ad-blocker, will no doubt rush to fill this void.



  • ToddHuge

    I’m perfectly satisfied with advertisers and ad revenue ‘dying on the vine’.

    I understand companies need to sell their stuff, but advertising is a shady industry that involves millions of people, covertly, trying to manipulate you, steal from you, lie to you and to a certain degree, enslave you. Kinda like modern-day politics. Give me more powerful options and let the chips fall where they may.

  • This has been an ongoing argument for over a decade. Back when I first started running my own websites, I used to run a business that was essentially ad supported. Back then, the ad market crashed, but then there was also the rise of AdBlocker.

    It’s a catch-22 for many people. They want content to be free, but they don’t want the annoyance of ad heavy websites.

    So, are people willing to pay for content? Ask the NYTimes. The answer is apparently no.

    Sites like Daring Fireball (and maybe here) can survive on Sponsorships, it’s easier for a single person running a website to survive on at least $500k that DF makes on site sponsorships (DF charges ~$9500 per week and is mostly filled each week, not counting other revenue sources like podcasts, etc).

    It’s a lot harder for larger news sites like iMore, etc to do it, so you tend to see the pages start filling up with advertising that is generally low quality and unfocused. Been to MacDailyNews lately? The result is low click through rates and lower revenue per ad.

    I’d love to see less ads, like on DF and Here…but even with content blockers, I doubt we will. It will just morph into ways undetectable by the blockers, inline text etc or serving the images via the site url.

    I’d also love to see a way for sites to produce meaningful revenue without being ad heavy. Twitter, anyone?

    • MacsenMcBain

      I realize I’m probably in the minority on this, but I don’t want the content to be free. I just want the content to be good. I’d gladly pay a reasonable subscription fee to access an ad-free version of a website.

  • I find iMore’s ads atrocious. Come on. They are rendered badly, offer irrelvant information (Android ads, really?) and are just ugly. At least work with advertisers to make the process palatable for readers. But there is little effort done in this capacity. I expect more from Rene et al.

    • franksspam

      I completely agree. What bothers me most about the iMore site is that there are so many ads and then the way the content is formatted you have to take a moment to figure out where the ads stop and the content begins. There are 11 ads on the iMore homepage right now and 7 of those are for GoDaddy. Why does GoDaddy need 7 ads on ONE PAGE?

  • Moeskido

    I understand the need to pay bills and improve a business. I even understand the thinking behind filling an entire browser column with purchase links to retailers of variable provenance.

    But there’s a way to do ads that doesn’t involve the equivalent of jumping up and farting in someone’s face every five minutes. Interrupting the flow of articles with ads that look like editorial content? Not one of them. This is one of the reasons I don’t visit iMore as often as I might.

    • franksspam

      I agree and the other thing that bugs me is the ridiculous number of links to share things on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit, Pintrest, and LinkedIn. They have them for the article, the author, and the site.

      It is hard to tell where the article ends. The site is written like they don’t care at all about good design. And for a site that covers Apple, that is a failure.

  • dreyfus2

    It would totally solve the problem for me, if they would offer an optional ad-free paid access (at reasonable cost, say $24 annually).

    But by ad-free I do not just mean real ads and these tracking scripts, I also mean no irrelevant crap offers for fifth-rate iPhone cases and accessories and no nonsense articles syndicated from other Mobile Nations junk sites (irrelevant and not really needed, as the iMore stuff creates enough quality content, no need for fillers).

    And while I like Rene, I have to disagree with him here. Strongly. No, other sites are not nearly as bad when it comes to load times and the percentage of screen real estate filled with complete crap. I do get the need for some sponsor announcements during podcasts though.

    • franksspam

      I imagine that they make much less than $24 per user based on the ads on their site. That is the shame of it. Your $24 could probably fund 30 users, minimum.

  • freedonuts

    Maybe a well designed News app could revolutionize the publishing market. If people are willing to pay $9.99 for a music subscription, why not pay something similar for ad-free access to unlimited publications from all your favorite writers?

  • Bob

    Several times I’ve seen forums where the users were complaining about the content of ads and the ‘owners’ would come on and say it’s out of their control. Ummm, that might be one thing to fix. Personally I don’t MIND ads for edible panties, but not when I’m hunting for a replacement DVD drive.

    • dreyfus2

      Look at the bigger picture… While you deal with the edible panties you won’t even need the DVD drive 🙂

      SCNR

  • The Loop is the perfect example. The old ad-based site was awful. I hated coming here, even though I loved the content, because there was 1″ of content visible on a screen of ads.

    The clean redesign, sponsors, and patrons (like me) made it nice, one of the only two Apple news sites I like visiting.

    iMore’s got great content, but it’s appalling, and when they have that near-death experience and fix it, it’ll be better. Or they’ll die, and we’ll be sad they couldn’t learn in time.

    • rick gregory

      The Loop is a VERY different scale publication from iMore. The revenue that supports this site wouldn’t come close to supporting what iMore does and, frankly, no matter what people say, most of you will not pay for content.

  • djr12

    I feel like the unblockable content has already been created and served up at macworld.com. No matter what I do (Click to Plugin, whatever), I can’t make those damn videos not autoplay. Safari’s built-in blocking doesn’t help, either. Granted, they’re not ads, they’re videos, but still. They’re zombie-unstoppable.