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O2 'Actively Testing' Network-level Ad Blocking

Alex Spencer

Ad block networkO2 is the latest operator to start investigating network-level mobile ad blocking, following a similar announcement from EE earlier this week.

“We are looking at these technologies to see if they can help our customers with some of the bad practices and disruptive experiences that are happening,” Robert Franks, O2's MD of digital commerce, told Business Insider.

The operator appears to be further down the road than rival EE, however, claiming it is already 'actively testing' ad blocking technology.

“When I say we are looking at these technologies, we are not just paying lip service to them,” said Franks. “We are absolutely having conversations which are well-advanced in terms of what that technology would do in in our network and other layers and how we would position this with customers.”

O2 is also reportedly considering directly offering ad blocking apps and browser extensions to its subscribers, at least partly because any network-level block wouldn't cover wi-fi traffic.

The operator wouldn't name any companies it is working with. The most likely option seems to be Shine, which made headlines back in May when it announced it was in talks with a number of operators to introduce network-level ad blocking, but the company declined to confirm its involvement.

Unlike Digicel, the first MNO to go live with Shine's tech last month, O2 doesn't seem to be interested in an absolute block – not least because it has a stake in mobile advertising, in the form of Weve, the mobile marketing joint venture it took full control of earlier this year.

Franks told Business Insider the operator “still predominantly believes in an ad-funded internet”, and wants to work to improve the quality of ads, particularly in the problem areas of targeting, creative, and data-heavy formats. “It is not in an advertisers' interest to spam customers or do things to create a terrible experience,” he said.