Mobile operator Three to introduce adblocking

Move to ‘give customers more control, choice and greater transparency’ has prompted concern among digital publishers and advertisers

Mobile company Three is to introduce adblocking across its UK and Italian networks, making it the first major European operator to do so.

Three has struck a deal with Israeli company Shine that will see the mobile adblocking technology introduced in the UK and Italy, followed by a “rapid roll-out” across its operations in other countries.

The move is cause for serious concern for digital publishers and advertisers, which are already dealing with a rising number of people who block advertising when they use their phones.

Three said its move to implement network-wide adblocking is not an attempt to “eliminate” all mobile advertising, but to “give customers more control, choice and greater transparency over what they receive”.

The company, which has 9 million UK customers, said a network-wide adblocking strategy is better than relying on apps because it “reaches a broader range of mobile adblocking”.

“Irrelevant and excessive mobile ads annoy customers and affect their overall network experience,” said Three UK chief marketing officer Tom Malleschitz.

Malleschitz said that the company has three core reasons for introducing the technology.

  • Customers pay data charges so they should not then receive ads, costs which the company says advertisers should be made to pay.
  • Some advertising aims to elicit customer data and information without them knowing.
  • Customers should only receive relevant advertising and not have their mobile experience “degraded by excessive, intrusive, unwanted or irrelevant ads”.

“These goals will give customers choice and significantly improve their ad experience,” said Malleschitz. “We don’t believe customers should have to pay for data usage driven by mobile ads. The industry has to work together to give customers mobile ads they want and benefit from.”

Three said that it will now engage with the advertising community to “deliver a better, more targeted and more transparent mobile ad experience to customers”.

The Internet Advertising Bureau warned that Three’s move could result in publishers being forced to charge users for content they currently enjoy for free.

“The IAB believes that an ad funded internet is essential in providing revenue to publishers so they can continue to make their content, services and applications widely available at little, or no cost,” said Alex Kozloff, the IAB’s acting marketing and communications director. “We believe adblocking undermines this approach and could mean consumers have to pay for content they currently get for free.”


Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

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