UK’s O2 followed rival EE in revealing that it is looking into technology to counter the effects of mobile advertising at a network level, which could reportedly include a blanket ban on such services.
EE’s CEO Olaf Swantee revealed earlier this week it is conducting a “strategic review” in launching an offensive on mobile ads by introducing technology to improve the quality and restrict the quantity of advertising going over its network.
While Swantee also said its move “is not about ad blocking”, an O2 UK spokesperson told TechCrunch the company is “looking at this area with interest from various standpoints. We are not yet looking at specific products or capabilities, but rather reviewing the market and what is happening. There are several options open in this space which we are keen to learn about”.
The comments followed a report by Business Insider, which quoted managing director of digital commerce, Robert Franks, who revealed the operator “is absolutely looking at network level ad blocking technology”.
“We are looking at these technologies to see if they can help our customers with some of the bad practices and disruptive experiences that are happening.”
Concerns over mobile advertising are indeed beginning to heighten, given increased intrusive practises, as well as the effect they can have on user data allowances. Mobile advertising as a whole is reportedly worth approximately £2 billion in the UK, and such a clampdown by operators could lead to major upheaval in the market.
Franks said O2 UK, which is in the process of being acquired by Hutchison, is undergoing “proper testing” of these technologies, and while not ruling out a blanket ban, the company said it is working with the industry to increase the quality of mobile advertising.
O2 UK said its main focus is on three complaints; “poor targeting, poor creative and ads that are data heavy”.
O2 UK also owns Weve, which it acquired fully in May this year, a mobile marketing company that sells text message and mobile interest advertising, which it claims runs on an “opt in” model.
Israeli ad blocking start-up Shine Technologies is one of the only companies in the market that currently claims to offer network level ad blocking for operators, and caused a storm earlier this year by taking out an advertisement in the Financial Times promoting its service. Caribbean operator Digicel claimed to become the first operator to adopt its solution last month, initially in Jamaica.
TechCrunch said a spokesperson for Shine declined to confirm whether it was in talks with O2 UK or EE, stating that its “customer will announce when they’re ready”. It also said that it was in discussions with “many carriers, including European”.