Today Three revealed a plan that they hope will help improve mobile advertising, revealing a new experiment to block ads from web pages for any user who participates for a total of 24 hours next month.
Three say that they have decided to do this for its customers, stating that customers should not have to pay for the data used to display mobile ads, and instead the advertiser should be responsible for covering that cost (no mention of the publisher’s cost here). They also mentioned that they wish to protect customer privacy, yet also make sure that ads shown are relevant to users (which is a bit of a contradiction), in fact because Three would have to access the contents of the pages you are accessing, this is definitely not keeping your information private.
Three’s chief marketing officer Tom Malleschit explained it with the following:
“This is the next step in our journey to make mobile ads better for our customers. The current ad model is broken. It frustrates customers, eats up their data allowance and can jeopardise their privacy. Something needs to change.”
“We can only achieve change by working with all stakeholders in the advertising industry – customers, advertising networks and publishers – to create a new form of advertising that is better for all parties.”
Personally, we think this is a terrible step for the internet as a whole, and for mobile viewing in general.
Of course, we would say that, given that we run advertising on our pages, however, I truly believe that mobile advertising and desktop advertising alike is key for an open web. That’s not to say that the way we advertise on the web doesn’t need to change because it does, advertising is obtrusive and can often creep into our lives further than we would like.
However, to make the web as accessible and as informational as it currently is, advertising is a necessary evil, if Three wishes to improve on this then there are a number of ways that they could do so, for example, if they are so bothered about their users data, why not make all requests to ad networks free? Or why not team up with other networks to offer their own form of mobile advertising?
Blocking ads is simply a plaster, not a solution.
We’re also not the only ones who think this, the iAB agrees with us, stating the following in a statement earlier today:
We’re all committed to solving the ad blocking issue but disagree with Three’s approach that network-level ad blocking is the way to go. It’s a broad-brush approach that the largest media owners can probably survive but not the long-tail of smaller ones. In the long-term consumers will also lose out, as they’ll likely have to pay for services that are currently free as they’re supported by advertising.
Thankfully, Three customers will be asked if they wish to participate in this trial during the week of June 13th, we urge anyone who cares about the independent web not to.