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Three casts advertisers in dark with Shine ad-blocking deal

James Pearce
February 19, 2016

Operator will becomes first major European operator to roll out adblocking, in an attempt to give “customers more control” over what information they receive

Three has announced a partnership with Israeli technology firm Shine to rollout ad-blocking across its network in the UK and Italy.

It means the operator will become the first European network to block ads at a network level, in a move that will cause serious concerns for mobile advertisers.

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”.

It argued a network-wide strategy was more beneficial to customers than apps that block adverts as it would cover a broader range of advertising. Research from the Internet Advertising Bureau found 18 per cent of British adults currently use some form of ad-blocking software.

Three UK CMO Tom Malleschitz outlined three goals the operator had in deploying Shine’s software:

1. That customers should not pay data charges to receive adverts. These should be costs borne by the advertiser.

2. That customers’ privacy and security must be fully protected. Some advertisers use mobile ads to extract and exploit data about customers without their knowledge or consent.

3. That customers should be entitled to receive advertising that is relevant and interesting to them, and not to have their data experience in mobile degraded by excessive, intrusive, unwanted or irrelevant adverts.

Malleschitz said: “Irrelevant and excessive mobile ads annoy customers and affect their overall network experience. 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. These goals will give customers choice and significantly improve their ad experience.”

Advertising industry hits back

Three’s comes just months after departing EE CEO Olaf Swantee said he would consider implementing similar software on the operator’s network in order to benefit its customers.

But the move has been slammed by the advertising industry, which has warned it could lead to businesses forcing users to pay for services they can currently access for free.

A spokesperson for the Internet Advertising Bureau, which looks after advertisers, agencies and media owners, claimed an ad-funded internet was “essential”. Digital advertising was worth about £4 billion in the first six months of 2015, according to IAB figures.

“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. We believe ad blocking undermines this approach and could mean consumers have to pay for content they currently get for free.”

The IAB claims almost half of UK residents who download ad-blocking software (43 per cent) do not do so to block all ads, but to block certain types of adverts or ones found on particular websites.

Its study, carried out in July last year, found that 61 per cent of British adults said they’d prefer to have free access and see ads than pay for content.

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