Three urges marketers to ‘shape up’ as it outlines plans to introduce mobile ad blocking

Three is rolling out ad blocking across its network as it aims to place the customer experience at the heart of the brand and encourage marketers to “shape up” when it comes to reducing the intrusion of their mobile advertising.

The mobile operator initially trialled the ad blocking technology, which is created by Shine Technologies, in Italy but is hoping to roll it out in the UK later this year. It will be the first mobile provider to do so.

Three has also outlined three principle goals in deploying its ad blocking capability. The first goal was developed after research by the company found that consumers often end up paying for the ads that are served to them.

Tom Malleschitz, Three’s CMO for the UK, told Marketing Week: “The data consumed by ads lies around 20% or even more depending on usage, which is, quite honestly, pretty massive. These are results that came in at the end of last year, so we thought it could be really interesting to create something appealing for consumers.”

The brand’s second goal is to protect customers’ privacy and security, as the company argues that some advertisers use mobile ads to extract and exploit data about customers without their knowledge or consent.

Finally, Three argues that customers should be entitled to receive advertising that is relevant and of a higher quality.

“From a marketing and CMO angle, I believe mobile ads are pretty annoying right now. We spend millions on advertising to inspire UK consumers to fall in love with our brand and stay with us longer, but this won’t happen if we’re serving the same ad 100 times over or overlay our purple puppet brand icon on content that people are trying to read. This is absolutely a push from Three to get advertisers to shape up,” he said.

Malleschitz said that while ideally this technology would have been “rolled out yesterday”, he is currently working with brands and agencies in a bid to gain industry support and implement it across the Three network later this year.

A rival approach to ad blocking

However not everyone is keen as Three to implement ad blocking across their services. In December last year, business publication City AM became the first UK publisher to implement anti-ad blocking technology on its website as it seeks to explain to consumers the financial impact of losing out on online advertising.

The software means anyone who enables ad blocking technology and visits the website can only read the first three paragraphs of any article, before being asked to turn off their ad blocking technology or whitelisting the website to allow ads if they wish to read the full piece.

At the time, Martin Ashplant, City AM’s digital and social media director, told Marketing Week: “In terms of how many people used ad blockers on our site, we were surprised that the number was nearly 20% of all our desktop impressions. For an organisation like us, that’s a number that we can’t make money out of and we take that very seriously.”