Shine teams with Econet to bring ad-blocking software to Africa

Cape Town South Africa

Shine Technologies and Econet Wireless agreed a deal that the companies said would bring network-level ad blocking to Africa for the first time, reaching around 40 million subscribers.

Under the terms of the agreement, which was facilitated by Cumii International, the first rollout will take place in Zimbabwe, with ad blocking coverage turned on automatically for all subscribers. All remaining Econet Group regions will follow in succession.

The companies claimed that an analysis of Econet’s network performance “exposed that the prevalence and unchecked behaviour of AdTech is robbing its subscribers of up to 40 per cent of their data plans.”

Shine CEO and co-founder Ron Porat said: "AdTech abuse is a global phenomenon, and in Africa in particular, it is devastating to consumers’ limited data plans."

Shine said the Econet agreement follows a similar deal with Three Group in Europe, which has already trialled the service in the UK. In February, Three said it was implementing the Shine technology on its mobile networks in the UK and Italy, and planned to roll out the technology to other Three Group markets within an undisclosed timeframe.

Ad blocking has come to the fore in the mobile sector as operators seek to fend off what they see as increasingly intrusive advertising in smartphone content. It is a controversial approach that has also provoked anger among content providers and media players.

For example, at Mobile World Congress in February 2016, sister title FierceWireless reported that a Yahoo executive scolded Shine for "destroying the ecosystem," and Google's managing director of media and platforms said he was "uncomfortable" with a network-based ad blocker that doesn't allow users to determine which ads they see and which they don't.

When Three UK announced its trial for June, it tried to give assurances that its intention was not to eliminate mobile advertising, but to give customers “more control, choice and greater transparency over what they receive."

However, the company believes that the current ad model is broken, as described by Tom Malleschitz, chief marketing officer at Three UK.

"It frustrates customers, eats up their data allowance and can jeopardise their privacy. Something needs to change,” Malleschitz said in May.

He added that it would only be possible to achieve change "by working with all stakeholders in the advertising industry -- customers, advertising networks and publishers -- to create a new form of advertising that is better for all parties."

For more:
- see the Shine Technologies release

Related articles:
Three UK to trial ad-blocking technology in June
Report: Google exploring policy for 'acceptable ads'
MWC panel highlights tension between ad blockers and the mobile-ad ecosystem

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