Three UK to trial ad-blocking technology in June

Three UK said it would trial ad-blocking technology on its network next month, marking the next step in the mobile operator's strategy to deal with what it deems to be increasingly intrusive advertising on mobile phones.

In February, Three said it was implementing ad-blocking technology from Shine Technologies 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.

Now, the UK-based operator has unveiled plans for a 24-hour trial during the week commencing Jun. 13. Customers who want to take part can sign up via the Three UK web site, and the operator will also contact customers directly.

Tom Malleschitz, chief marketing officer at Three UK, said: "The current ad model is broken. It frustrates customers, eats up their data allowance and can jeopardise their privacy. Something needs to change."

Three cited research from KPMG that said 44 per cent of UK adults are planning to use an ad-blocker in the next six months.

"Our customers are becoming increasingly frustrated by irrelevant and intrusive adverts which use up their data allowance and can invade their privacy by tracking their behaviour without their knowledge or consent," the company said.

It added that the trial would test the ability of the technology "to filter out advertising that damages our customers' mobile browsing experience without impacting their network experience."

EE and O2 UK have also both previously indicated an interest in ad-blocking technology, although with the primary aim of giving consumers more control rather than eradicating ads altogether.

In February Three confirmed that this is also its policy, saying that its 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."

Despite these assurances, ad blocking is a highly contentious issue. Indeed, 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.

Three's Malleschitz said 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 this Three UK release

Related articles:
Report: Google exploring policy for 'acceptable ads'
MWC panel highlights tension between ad blockers and the mobile-ad ecosystem
Juniper Research: App advertising to reach $44B by 2020
Three deploys Shine ad-blocking technology in UK and Italy
EE considers giving smartphone users tools to block mobile ads

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