A First: Caribbean Telco Digicel Does Network-Level Ad-Blocking Deal With Shine

digicelshineOf all the threats posed by the ad-blocking trend, perhaps the scariest scenario for publishers is that paid media placements could be filtered at the network level.

Now that nightmare seems to be coming true, as Israeli ad-blocking tech company Shine has said it will integrate with wireless carrier Digicel to screen ads aimed at the carrier’s 13.6 million subscribers.

Shine says its technology can block display and video ads in both mobile browsers and apps, and the company has been actively pursuing deals with carriers. Digicel believes the solution will improve the experience for customers in the bandwidth-constrained regions it serves.

“Companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook talk a great game and take a lot of credit when it comes to pushing the idea of broadband for all – but they put no money in,” said Chairman Dennis O’Brien.

O’Brien argues carriers are often forced to absorb costs associated with data-heavy ad loads. O’Brien and Shine CEO Ron Porat call for digital players to “enter into revenue-sharing agreements” with mobile operators like Digicel, a phrase that will spark concerns over a “shakedown” of the sort Adblock Plus maker Eyeo has been accused of imposing on digital media companies.

Porat said it’s “time for everyone in the digital advertising ecosystem to look to the future and start having a conversation about how better and sustainable digital advertising can be created.”

When asked whether the prospects of an agreement between operators and tech companies were realistic or idealistic, Shine CMO Roi Carthy said in an email to AdExchanger that, “If [O’Brien] believes he can negotiate rev-share with the big boys, then I would take him at his word.”

In a statement to the Financial Times earlier this year, Google said, “People pay for mobile Internet packages so they can access the apps, video streaming, webmail and other services they love, many of which are funded by ads. Google and other web companies invest heavily in developing these services – and in the behind-the-scenes infrastructure to deliver them.”

According to Digicel, ads account for as much as 10% of subscribers’ data use, and the opportunity to skim that off the company’s bottom line was apparently too tempting to ignore.

Digicel filed for an IPO earlier this summer and is taking an aggressive, public stance in the lead-up to its listing on the New York Stock Exchange. But Carthy noted that “Digicel isn’t the only carrier we’re active with, just the first to announce.”

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