Three said it is implementing ad-blocking technology from Shine Technologies on its mobile networks in the UK and Italy, and plans to roll out the technology to other Three Group markets within an undisclosed timeframe.
The operator has therefore become the first operator in Europe to reveal that it is deploying the technology developed by ad-blocking specialist Shine. EE and O2 UK, which is an acquisition target of Three UK, have both previously indicated an interest in ad-blocking technology, although with the primary aim of giving consumers more control rather than eradicating ads altogether.
Three confirmed that this is also its policy. In a statement, the company said: "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."
Tom Malleschitz, CMO of Three UK, added that "irrelevant and excessive mobile ads" clearly annoy customers and also affect their overall network experience.
"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. These goals will give customers choice and significantly improve their ad experience," Malleschitz said.
Three's broad objectives in deploying ad-blocking capability are that customers should not pay data charges to receive adverts; that customers' privacy and security must be fully protected; and that customers should be entitled to receive advertising that is relevant and interesting to them.
The operator hasn't yet revealed many details on when and how it will roll out a consumer ad-blocking service on its networks in the UK and Italy. A spokesperson for the UK operator said the technology would be implemented later this year.
In its statement, the operator said it would announce details on how it plans to achieve its objectives in the coming months.
Ad blocking on mobile networks has come increasingly under the spotlight in recent months. Last year, Philipp Humm, the former CEO of Vodafone Europe, joined the board of Shine Technologies, further underlining how serious an issue this has become for mobile operators.
At the time of his appointment, Humm highlighted the need for such services to be opt-in only, to avoid infringing net neutrality principles.
Last September, Caribbean operator Digicel became the first operator globally to announce it would deploy Shine technology but in contrast to the intention of European operators it has automatically opted in its customers, according to TechCrunch.
Shine co-founder Roy Carthy told TechCrunch that the company was talking to 60 operators around the world including others in Europe, and expects to make more announcements in the coming six months.
Spotlight on mobile ad blocking as former Vodafone executive joins Shine
EE considers giving smartphone users tools to block mobile ads
European operators gear up to block mobile adverts from Google et al
InMobi exec says now is the time to develop MEA mobile marketing strategies
IHS: Revenue from mobile media and advertising will pass $90B in 2018