Every major operator group globally is considering how to rollout network level ad blocking for their consumers, revealed Roi Carthy (pictured), CMO of Shine, the start-up disruptor pioneering the technology.
Mobile ad blocking hit the headlines last week after both EE and O2 in the UK revealed plans to review mobile ad technology, a development that would have been “pretty much impossible a year ago”, Carthy told Mobile World Live.
Shine then followed up the news this week by revealing that former Vodafone European head and ex T-Mobile US CEO Philipp Humm has joined its board of directors, providing further indication that the ad blocking concept in the network is gaining traction among operators.
“One day after another we saw two major carriers say something about ad blocking which was unbelievable,” said Carthy. “While I can’t reveal specific names, there are dozens of carriers within our funnel at the moment and things are accelerating faster than we could have imagined. I can say there is no single major carrier or carrier group that is not exploring whether to launch ad blocking, but how to launch it – it’s got to that stage.”
Shine raised awareness earlier this year after taking out advertisements in the Financial Times promoting its business, as well as calling on operators to take action against ads that use up consumer data allowances. Shortly after, the company announced Caribbean operator Digicel as its first customer, which is embarking on a mobile ad ban at a network level, initially in Jamaica.
Carthy revealed Shine embarked on its journey to educate the market about ad blocking just over a year ago, at a time “when nobody was discussing or even thinking about rolling such a thing out”.
“It was a lot of hand holding initially because it was an immature market in the way they looked at ad blocking,” said Carthy. “There was little understanding about what it is, what the problem was and the opportunities that existed to counter the problem at a consumer and a network level. Up to now, I think we’ve done a thorough job.”
Carthy said even though it was two UK operators speaking out last week about ad blocking, he doesn’t believe the issue has more prominence in the country compared to anywhere else.
“With every technology lifecycle, you will have innovators and early adopters and so forth. Carriers are looking to figure out the best roll out strategy, and each will have their own tactics individually.”
“The most hated person in the room”
Reports of a clampdown on mobile ads by operators, while good news for consumers, could cause major upheaval for the lucrative mobile advertising market. The sector is worth a reported £2 billion in the UK alone, while research group eMarketer estimates marketers will spend $69 billion this year alone on mobile ads.
Carthy said analysts in the online advertising community accuse Shine of generating “hysteria and paranoia” over the issue, while revealing that speaking on industry conference panels is also not an easy gig.
“The backlash has started,” he said. “I do a lot of speaking engagements on panels and I can tell you that I am always the most hated person in the room. Once I got shouted at from the audience while on stage. This is touching a lot of nerves.”
Of Shine’s appointment of Humm, which was announced officially by the company earlier today (2 December), Carthy said his new colleague brings “experience that belittles ours without question”.
“He is a phone call away from every telco CEO in the world and he knows them personally. He’s here to help us even harder embrace the roll out of ad blocking at a faster pace than it is now. His appointment is an indicator of just how serious we are. Ad blocking is not going to go away.”