Advertisements are a part of online life, but some are clearly more tolerable than others. Three UK and Three Italy are taking a stand against ads and are to become the first carriers in Europe to block “excessive and irrelevant mobile ads” on their networks.
To accomplish this, the carrier group is making use of Shine’s ad-blocking technology. The goal is for all the other brands in the Three Group to follow suite. The exact way that Shine’s technology will be implemented hasn’t been disclosed, but we know that the company offers network-level ad blocking rather than requiring users to install a browser or software. Comments from Three suggest that it will be deploying Shine on an opt-in basis.
Interestingly, the intention does not appear to be to automatically block all advertisements. Instead, the carrier is concerned that increasingly bulky advertisements are consuming user data without offering any benefit to viewers and wants users to have more control over what they see. However, Shine states that it targets all basic banners, pop-ups, and pop unders that interrupt the user experience to get past them, and doesn’t seem to run any whitelists of ‘acceptable ads’.
“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.” – Tom Malleschitz, Three UK CMO
Three is not the only European carrier looking to block advertisements from its network. Last November EE, the UK’s largest 4G carrier, started a strategic review of ad blocking and Shine states that it is in talks with over 60 carriers all around the world.
It isn’t just carriers looking to clamp down on overzealous advertisements. Samsung recently updated its stock mobile browser with support for third party ad-blocking tools, giving users the option to block ads right out of the box. This was met with a swift removal and reinstatement of the compatible Adblock Fast extensions from the Play Store.
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Ad-blocking looks set to become an even more contentious issue over the course of the year. We will have to see how big businesses that rely on advertising, such as Google, react to these industry changes and if carrier ad blocking will end up brushing against EU and US net neutrality laws.