Euro Carrier Three Is Latest To Embrace Network-Level Ad Blocking, Signs With Shine

telcoThreeBritish carrier Three Group became the second wireless service provider to integrate network-level ad blocking courtesy of Israel-based Shine.

Following a recent trial of the technology, the telco’s regional groups Three Italy and Three UK will begin screening in-app and mobile browser ads for their 10 million to 15 million subscribers.

The deal marks Shine’s second and third implementation with a wireless service provider, and its first in Europe. Caribbean telco Digicel partnered with the company last year, explicitly calling out ad tech leaders Google, Facebook and Yahoo for soaking up carrier data without sharing revenue.

Three sounded a similar note in a statement Friday. “Customers should not pay data charges to receive adverts,” it said. “These should be costs borne by the advertiser.”

Shine CMO Roi Carthy said Three and its customers will see cost savings resulting from reduced data consumption and user overages, as well as potential commercial opportunities, such as new price tiers based on whether a subscriber blocks ads (and thus consumes less data).

“There’s this notion that carriers don’t care about their consumers,” said Carthy, “but we find that the thing they want to sell isn’t a ring tone or a brand, it’s actual user value.”

Three has said little about how it will leverage its new ad block integration for revenue gain, but publisher and agency sources with knowledge of the deal said they expect Three will reopen its network to advertisers – for a cost. The idea would be similar to Adblock Plus’ Acceptable Ads Initiative, a paid whitelisting program that the IAB and some European publishers have referred to as extortion.

Shine does not offer a way for ad platforms or publishers to pay to gain access to a whitelist, though Carthy said the company would consider a model along those lines.

“What you won’t see us do is monetize our user profiles or collect any data around them,” said Carthy.

The digital advertising industry and Shine have traded blows recently, with IAB President Randall Rothenberg telling Business Insider that Shine is “funded by foreign billionaire investors, for the express purpose of stealing money from advertisers and publishers and diverting it into the pockets of giant cell phone carriers.”

To Rothenberg’s point, Hong Kong investor Li Ka-shing has a position at Shine and owns the holding company that controls Three Group.

If Adblock Plus’ whitelisting policy is the tollbooth for the desktop landscape, Shine’s centralized carrier subscriber profiles may end up the same for mobile.

“The objective,” Carthy said, “is to build a massive user base of hundreds of millions of consumers who have opted into Shine protecting them from ad tech.”

The two networks Shine publicly works with represent fewer than 30 million subscribers, which is a relatively small number for global marketers. (Consider that some markets, like China and India, are adding more users than that every year.) However, Carthy said approximately 60 carriers are either evaluating the product or already integrated but don’t want to announce the news.

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1 Comment

  1. Vladimir P.

    This is just pure greed. Carriers are already charging the users a lot for their data usage, and, in spite of what the Shine CMO says, no – the users will not see any potential “commercial opportunities” or lower prices. because this move is aimed at extorting money from advertisers and digital media companies. They’re trying to “double dip”. This should be illegal. If I was Google, I would ban the Three Group’s users from accessing the engine and all relevant websites, which would eventually cause the users to flee to other carriers. What Shine and Three Group are doing is called blackmail.