EE considers giving smartphone users tools to block mobile ads

EE CEO Olaf Swantee launched a strategic review into whether or not the mobile operator should allow its smartphone customers to restrict some forms of mobile advertising on their devices.

According to a report in the Telegraph, Swantee is concerned about the rise in intrusive practices, and wants to give subscribers more control over the quantity and type of advertising they see.

For example, options to be considered include tools that would allow subscribers to block some forms of advertising as well as control the overall volume they receive.

Swantee stressed that he does not intend to block all advertising, noting that advertising when done well can be a valuable part of the overall mobile experience.

"Not all ads are bad. When a business gets it right, it's appreciated and sparks a connection. But when it's intrusive or crass it can drive people crazy," he told the Telegraph.

The paper noted that the review by EE -- which is currently in the process of being acquired by BT -- could nonetheless cause alarm in the advertising industry, which has struggled to make headway with mobile advertising and already faces increased levels of blocking by consumers.

In May, the Financial Times reported that Google and other over-the-top (OTT) players faced the prospect of seeing their mobile adverts blocked by a number of European operators, which were preparing to deploy ad blocking software from Israel-based start up Shine by the end of 2015.

Speaking to the FT, Shine CMO Roi Carthy said millions of mobile users are likely to opt-in to ad blocking when it is offered, noting that such a move would be "devastating" to the broader online advertising market.

Research company eMarketer in March predicted that UK marketers would spend £3.2 billion (€4.5 billion/$4.8 billion) on mobile marketing in 2015, or 20.1 per cent of total media ad spending in the country. That compares to the £2.2 billion spent in 2014, which equated to a 14.7 per cent share of total spending.

In August this year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and IHS Technology said global mobile advertising revenue surged 64.8 per cent to $31.9 billion (€30 billion) in 2014 from $19.3 billion in 2013.

The report said mobile display again showed the highest growth at 88.1 per cent, overtaking search as the dominant segment. Display represented 47.4 per cent of total global mobile advertising revenue in 2014 at $15.1 billion. Mobile search followed, rising 55.2 per cent and taking a 46.1 per cent share at $14.7 billion. Messaging increased by 13 per cent, as users continued to migrate from operator-owned messaging services to app-based messaging platforms, with a 6.6 per cent share at $2.1 billion.

For more:
- see this Telegraph article
- see the IAB and IHS report

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