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Three blocks ads network-wide in the UK and Italy

Three has become the first network ever to block advertising on mobile internet. It has done so on its UK and Italian network, the media have reported on Friday.

The network has signed a deal with an Israeli company called Shine, which will implement mobile internet ad blocking technology. After the initial implementations in the UK and Italy, a "rapid roll-out” to other countries is expected, as well.

Three said it doesn’t want to eliminate advertising, but to give users more control and greater transparency over what they see. The network also said it has decided for a network-wide block instead of apps as it “reaches a broader range of mobile advertising”.

“Irrelevant and excessive mobile ads annoy customers and affect their overall network experience,” said Three UK chief marketing officer Tom Malleschitz.

Three said there are three main principal goals in deploying ad blocking capabilities:

  • Customers already pay for data plans, and they shouldn’t waste them on ads. These costs should be borne by advertisers
  • Some advertisers use ads to collect data about the users, sometimes even without their knowledge
  • Ads are sometimes irrelevant, degrading the mobile experience by “excessive, intrusive, unwanted or irrelevant adverts”.

“These goals will give customers choice and significantly improve their ad experience,” said Malleschitz. “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.”

Three says it will now engage in a discussion with the advertisers to “deliver a better, more targeted and more transparent mobile ad experience to customers”.

Connor Shaw, EMEA Marketing Director for Marketo commented: "Today’s news from mobile operator Three, that it is to introduce ad blocking across its UK and Italian networks, calls into question again the effectiveness of digital advertising in its current format. People don't like ads, they are fed up of receiving intrusive and irrelevant ads, and are taking action against this. Therefore, brands need to find a way of reconnecting with the 41 per cent of consumers who are using ad blockers.

"The always-on culture that mobile phones have created mean that it is vital to create a relationship with your target audience and encourage consumers to accept your content into their lives. To do this, advertisers need to shift from mass communications to engagement marketing.

"Where people allow you into their lives and look forward to hearing from you because you are a trusted person who provides them with relevant and useful information at the right moment. This pivot in approach is the real solution to ad blocking on mobile and across all devices.”