Spotlight on mobile ad blocking as former Vodafone executive joins Shine

Philipp Humm, the former CEO of Vodafone Europe, has joined the board of Shine Technologies, it has been revealed. The interesting thing about Shine is that is rolling out technology that enables mobile operators to block ads at both the browser-based and apps level, preventing ads from ever reaching a mobile user.

The fact that a former Vodafone executive has joined an ad-blocking technology company underlines how serious an issue this has become for mobile operators.

Humm's move came just days after both EE and O2 UK said they were looking into technology that could help them to block "some" mobile ads at network level.

The increased chatter about ad blocking by operators has of course brought up the more negative and possibly uncomfortable aspects of ad blocking at network level. In an interview with Business Insider, Humm was asked about how this practice would align with net neutrality principles, for example. He said if the service is opt-in only, then it would not contradict the net neutrality issue.

There is also controversy about ad blockers or operators taking a percentage of revenue or companies paying to be white listed, but Humm said this is something that would need to be negotiated by the parties involved.

Crucially, as Humm told Business Insider, operators such as EE and O2 have started these conversations because they believe it is imperative to find a model that will work for everyone. As EE CEO Olaf Swantee pointed out in an interview with the Telegraph: "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."

Indeed, most of us with smartphones will have experienced "intrusive" mobile ads in one form or another. I use MapMyRun, for example, and find the audio adverts that appear at the end of every session so annoying that I am investigating different running apps.

One thing is for sure: the advertising industry badly wants to exploit the mobile advertising channel. An improvement in its approach is sorely needed.--Anne