Ad Blockers can Ruin Your Legitimate Web App that Isn’t Even Serving Ads
Since rebranding some of our old classifieds sites and relaunching the system as OhSoHandy.com in a newly built Ruby on Rails app we’ve received a handful of emails complaining about strange behavior that always involved links not appearing for the user.
How do you read the rest of the postings or see any pictures that were uploaded?!?! There are no links on the classifieds to keep reading them. Please help since I am new to the website.
At first I discounted this as user error. “These fools don’t know how to use the internets!” DELETE.
After getting several more of these I became concerned and managed to get a few users to send screenshots and HTML source. We were all stumped. The page was fully loaded except the links to the classified ads were missing. There were no errors in the logs.
I just came across something else in my hunting. It could be an
ad-blocking plugin. See if the users have some common plugin in their
browser that hides ads. Also, see if there is some pattern to the
links that are disappearing – e.g. some keyword or URL pattern.
Did a bit of Googling and sure enough Norton Internet Security takes a very heavy handed approach to blocking ads on sites:
Ad Blocking maintains a list of more than 200 HTML strings that are associated with advertisements…….
For example, Ad Blocking prevents Web pages whose URL includes www.ad.siemens.com from being displayed because the URL includes the HTML string “AD.”
And our URL’s are structured with the word ad in the URL:
Created a page to test the theory and asked the most recent user to check it. He validated the test and confirmed that he did indeed have Norton Internet Security installed and running on his machine.
So be careful when naming your URL routes and avoid the use of the phrase “ad” or “banner”! Much, MUCH thanks to Chris Garrett for thinking outside of the box and to Curt Rabon of Blue Lizard Technologies for pointing out the problem and allowing me to use him for a guinea pig.
Lookout Googlebot. We’re going to be serving a LOT of 301 redirects shortly.