Three begins network-wide ad blocking trial

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/JayLazarin)

Hutchison-owned MNO Three announced earlier this year that it would tackle 'excessive and irrelevant' mobile advertising with a network-level blocker. As of today, a small number of customers will begin testing Three's ad-blocking technology. 

Powered by ad-blocking specialist Shine Technologies, the company says it uses some form of machine-learning to perform deep packet inspection (DPI) inside the network. Through employing  "real-time analysis, artificial intelligence and algorithms," the software is able to identify ads and prevent them whilst ensuring the original web page remains intact. 

Tom Malleschitz, Chief Marketing Officer, Three UK, 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." 

The company has three principles when it comes to ad blocking: 

  • Customers should not pay data charges to receive adverts. These should be costs borne by the advertiser. 

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

Advertising is a divisive topic. Some will argue that advertising is a necessary evil, whereas others debate it can end up causing more harm than good when consumers are becoming intolerant to ads. 

We recently published an interview with the CEO of Tesco MobileAnthony Vollmer, who represents a company taking a different approach by reducing customers' bills if they agree to advertising relevant to their location. When asked what he thought of Three's ad-blocking strategy, Vollmer responded: "We have no plans to follow their approach, we've decided to focus on a proposition which is entirely opt-in."  

Tesco is using advertising technology from Unlockd to display the location-based adverts on a user's lock screen. Matt Berriman, CEO and co-founder of Unlockd, commented on Three's plans: “Three’s ad blocking plans are reflective of a much bigger industry issue. Telcos are after a slice of the mobile advertising revenues that they’ve created but currently see little revenue from." 

"Blocking or threatening to block ads is a topical way to get publishers and media companies to the negotiating table, but the reality is that ad blocking does not offer the value exchange that consumers or telcos are really both seeking. Blocking ads makes a clear statement of intent, but it won’t help to have any impact on a telco’s revenues or bottom line. Meanwhile, consumers, who have traditionally accepted ads where they perceive a clear value exchange (such as TV and radio) are clearly showing that for the mobile channel, the value exchange model isn’t quite there yet." 

Do you think advertising should be prevented at the network-level? Let us know in the comments.


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