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Three challenges industry to address its approach to advertising

James Pearce
March 10, 2016

Operator announces partnership with ad-blocker firm to stimulate dialogue around ad experience

Three is challenging rival operators and advertising agencies to work together to develop less intrusive and higher quality mobile targeted ads, or risk turning off consumers.

The operator, which last month announced an agreement to use Shine’s ad-blocking software – said to be 95 per cent effective, – on its network in the UK and Italy, claims mobile advertising uses up more than 20 per cent of a customer’s monthly data allowance, aggravating consumers.

Three UK CMO Tom Malleschitz (pictured) told Mobile News that Three had announced the partnership with Shine to open up a dialogue with advertisers and other industry bodies around how to improve the advertising experience.

“We’ve seen the take up of desktop ad blockers, especially in key markets such as Germany and the UK, and we wanted to explore the reasons behind this. People are just annoyed about ad formats. We produce a lot of ads ourselves, but we want to make sure we’re producing emotional and engaging adverts.”

According to research from internet freedom firm PageFair, more than 12 million Brits used ad-blocking software in the 12 months up to June 2015, an 82 per cent rise on the previous year.

Ad-blocking is estimated to cost publishers around $22 billion a year across the globe, highlighting the impact Three’s plans could have on the industry.

Relevant not intrusive
Malleschitz said it was not Three’s goal to block all ads, but rather to drive the advertising industry into creating an ad-stream with less intrusive, more relevant and more engaging adverts. Three also wants advertisers to cover the cost of data, not consumers.

“Ads need to be relevant, not intrusive. Imagine you create an ad stream where the ads are entertaining, relevant and you don’t have to pay for the data. You also have control over what privacy you have given up.

“This is what we want to create but we can’t do it on our own. We need to work together with the ad industry, appropriate bodies and other operators to do what we envisage.”

Other industry figures have already offered support for Three’s move. Speaking at this year’s Mobile World Congress, Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao said he was “open” to introducing ad-blocking software.

Advertising industry body, the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), told Mobile News they’d be open to working with Three to improve advertisements, and had even invited Malleschitz to speak at an upcoming IAB conference.

A spokesperson for the IAB said: “The IAB believes an ad-funded internet is essential for providing revenue to publishers so they can continue to make their content, services and applications widely available at little, or no, cost.

“We absolutely acknowledge digital advertising needs to be a great experience for consumers, and our L.E.A.N. standards are the embodiment of this.

“The programme stands for Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported, Non-invasive ads  and are the principles that will help guide the next phases of advertising technical standards for the global digital advertising supply chain. We welcome all players across the industry to come together with us to help achieve this goal.”

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