Masterclassing Connect

3 First UK Operator to Introduce Network-Level Ad Blocking

Alex Spencer

Ad block networkLast May, we reported on Shine, an Israeli ad blocker firm which was claiming it had signed up multiple MNOs to use its tech to block ads at the network level – affecting both online and in-app inventory as long as the user is using a mobile data connection. However, despite dramatic proclamations on Shine's part, only one partner came forward during the intervening months, Caribbean telco Digicel.

That has now all changed, with the reveal of the first European operator to sign up with Shine: Hutchison Whampoa-owned 3, which will be rolling out ad blocking in the UK and Italy initially, with an eye of deploying it across 'all other Three Group operators', which together total some 30m subscribers.

"Our objective in working with Shine is not to eliminate mobile advertising, which is often interesting and beneficial to our customers, but to give customers more control, choice and greater transparency over what they receive," reads 3's statement on the partnership.

The operator has identified its 'three principal goals' with ad blocking: the protection of user privacy and security; encouraging relevant and non-intrusive ads; and, perhaps most pertinently, making it so advertisers bear the data cost of loading ads rather than users.

"Irrelevant and excessive mobile ads annoy customers and affect their overall network experience," said 3 UK CMO Tom Malleschitz. "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 exact details are still a little fuzzy in terms of when we can expect to see the tech deployed, or how ads will be filtered, but more details are promised 'over the coming months'.

This partnership could potentially open the floodgates for ad blocking in the UK – both O2, which is in the process of being acquired by Hutchison Whampoa, and EE announced last November that they were investigating network-level blocking.

Shine CMO Roi certainly believes it will: "Three is Shine’s European beachhead — expect more European Carriers to roll out Shine this year," he told Mobile Marketing. "This answers any speculation about the possibility of rolling out network-level ad blocking in Europe. It’s now a fact."