Cellcos should stay out of ad-blocking game no matter how popular it is

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While network-based ad-blocking may be perceived by cellcos as a customer friendly option, such a move would also generate negative sentiment and controversy from advertisers, publishers, and regulators, which would outweigh any potential benefit from helping customers avoid ads.

That’s according to a new report from Strategy Analytics which says that operators should be following the lead of Sprint, Telefonica, and Verizon and adding value to the mobile advertising ecosystem.

Recently, mobile operators like Digicel and Three have either commercially launched or trialed service to block mobile advertising at network level. And little wonder – recent research from Strategy Analytics found that ad blocking has become an increasingly common practice on all digital platforms as a result of ad bloat and privacy concerns.

“Even without the participation of mobile operators, the use of mobile ad-blockers has already become popular. According to a recent study by Strategy Analytics, more than one-third of mobile users under the age of 24 years in France have installed ad-blockers on their mobile handsets. This is worrying to brands and publishers,” said SA wireless media strategies analyst Wei Shi.

Nitesh Patel, SA’s director of Wireless Media, said mobile operators should leave it to the market to provide the solutions consumers need rather than risk annoying advertisers – and possibly regulators.

“Mobile operators may argue network level ad-blocking services both protect customers from annoying ads, and enables operators to participate in the mobile advertising value-chain,” he said. “By enabling network level ad-blocking, however, mobile operators are not only alienating the publishing and advertising industries, but also challenging regulators, especially in markets with strict net-neutrality rules.”

Instead, Patel advised, operators should investigate alternative opportunities to add value to the mobile advertising ecosystem. “For example, they can consider becoming data management platforms (DMPs), like Sprint’s Pinsight Media, or Verizon’s Precision Insights, or playing a role in ad-assurance to help advertisers overcome ad-fraud.”

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