Why are people using ad blockers on mobile?

I released Crystal last Wednesday, a content blocker for iOS 9 that blocks advertising and user tracking in mobile Safari. Since then, It's had an amazing response and hit the top of the App Store charts in 30 countries within a short amount of time. Other content blockers have also stormed the charts worldwide proving there is a huge demand at the moment for these apps.

But why? Well, I held a short survey to people signed up to Crystal's launch newsletter and visitors of the Crystal website,  that received over 800 replies.  (raw results here)

Why Do you want to block Mobile Ads?

A Loss of Focus

This question was to pick the most important reason why you would like to block mobile advertising.

Visual clutter and site load times make up 64% of the poll. They compliment each other perfectly as the more advertising you add to a web page, the more cluttered it becomes, the slower it takes to load and ultimately it'll cause more frustration to the reader. 

I've seen a lot of websites cram so many different ad networks together, which often don't compliment each other and take a strong focus away from the content of the site. Here is a great example from pcmag.com. Any point they tried to make with their article was discredited before the reader has got past the headline.

Privacy concerns makes up a strong 22%. Honouring browser options such as Do Not Track may be beneficial to rebuild the trust between a subset of users and the sites they visit. 

Given the option, how would you like to support your favourite ad-supported sites?

*Allow ads that meet a quality criteria.

Not All Readers Want to Block Ads

When surveying people who wanted to install an adblocker, this was the most surprising result to me.

71% of people who are blocking ads are not actually against advertising in general and are more than happy to allow advertising that meets an acceptable criteria or whitelist a site by site basis. My first planned update to Crystal plans to cater for this majority by introducing a feature to allow Acceptable Ads and a user-managed whitelist. You can read more about that here. 

22% however are willing to pay money to support sites, either to remove advertising or to receive extra content. If you're a publisher, would it be worth losing advert clicks/impressions for ~20% of your readers in exchange for $1-5 a month per user?

6.5% of the voters don't want to support their favourite sites with adviews or money. 

Crystal Benchmarks

Update 25/8: I suck at math - I originally posted that pages loaded 74% faster. They actually load 3.9x faster - and the time to load is reduced by 74%. I've edited the below post to reflect this. 

2 months ago I wrote about what I accomplished in an hour with Safari Content Blocker. 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. 

10 Websites

For this experiment, I have picked 10 pages from different news websites - Some I use regularly, some I don't. The metrics I'm monitoring is page size (in MB) and load time (in Seconds). 10 pages is far from a good sample size for the web, I know, but the web is a big place, and my time to benchmark is limited. 

Websites tested: New York Times, Business Insider, Macworld, Wired, The Verge, PC Gamer, iMore, Kotaku, Huffington Post, Vice.

Method: All sites tested on an iPhone 6+, connected to wifi (154Mb Fiber). All metrics are taken from Safari Web Inspector after doing an Ignored Cache Reload (CMD+Shift+R).

Results

On average, pages loaded 3.9x 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.

See charts below with the raw data.

Page Load Time in Seconds

Page Size in MB

When can I get Crystal? 

Short answer - When iOS 9 is released.

I've already got iOS 9 - Can I get it sooner?

Crystal is currently in a closed public beta, with access rolling out to more people every few days. To sign up for the beta or get notifications when its released, click here for more details. 

I've also made a little Crystal splash page and Twitter account @_CrystalApp to keep you all updated with progress. 

Joke Shake - 2 weeks later

So its been a busy 2 weeks, a major firmware update for iPhone & iPad along with the launch of the new iPhone 5!

I have been busy with a little contract work, however once that was complete, I soon got to work on getting Joke Shake fully updated for the new iPhone, along with some extra features thrown in for everyone else. It has been submitted to the  App Store for review, so expect it in the next week or so. 

Since it has been live for just over 2 weeks, I thought I would post some of the stats, although numbers and stuff can be a little boring, so I made this infographic (thanks to infogr.am) to share.

If you havent picked up Joke Shake yet, grab it at JokeShake.com

Enjoy!

EDIT: Under In App Purchases section, I have incorrectly stated that 'Doctor Doctor' were the top selling pack, it was actually 'Yo Momma'... No more proof reading at midnight!

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