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Mobile carrier Three says it won't be blocking ads after all - admitting its initial announcement 'p----d off' companies like Google

tom malleschitz


Three UK chief marketing officer Tom Malleschitz.

Mobile carrier Three has said it won't be introducing ad blocking features, admitting its initial announcement about an ad blocking test "pissed Google off" and the UK communications regulator, Marketing Week reported.

Three announced it was partnering with ad blocking company Shine to test network-level ad blocking for its customers in the UK and Italy in February. At the time, Three said its objective was not to eliminate mobile advertising altogether, but to give customers more choice and transparency about the types of ads they see on their phones.

But now Three, which has 9 million customers in the UK and around the same number in Italy, has confirmed it won't be rolling out network-level ad blocking as a consumer product.Speaking the Ad Tech London conference in London on Wednesday, Three chief marketing officer Tom Malleschitz said (as per Marketing Week's report): "We don't believe ad blocking is the solution. We are one of the biggest advertisers in the country and I know if I have annoyed you with my ad, I lose money. It is more about creating something that is inspiring and relevant."

Ruffled feathers

He added that the company's initial announcement had "pissed off" Google, Ofcom, and other media owners.

"There were some threats in terms of 'we want to ban all your customers on sites' but this was based on limited knowledge of what we want to do," he explained.

It appears Three never intended to launch an ad blocking service for customers, but instead wanted to use its ad blocking test to research an improve the advertising they are served on its network. Back in May, Malleschitz said Three was working with industry bodies and publishers to develop a new set of ad standards - and it seems this is the direction the carrier is heading in.

At the conference, Malleschitz said Three was looking to launch a "better-targeted" advertising product next year for customers.
Quite what form that product will take is unclear. Three is continuing to work with Shine, which announced in July it is launching an "ad verification platform," using data from carriers to provide marketers with assurances their ads appear on the sites they wanted them to appear on and in front of the real human audiences they wanted to serve their messages too.

Three said at the conference that research from Mobile Squared - which polled 50 senior executives within brands, publishers, and ad tech companies - suggested adoption of its new platform would see a "25% increase in media effectiveness for advertisers" and a "20% improvement in the value of advertising space for publishers."

Those figures are based on a reduction in fraud, better viewability, and better targeting, according to Three, which appears to chime with what Shine says it is setting out to achieve.

Three may have struggled to launch network-level ad blocking, anyway. In August, the EU published its long-awaited net neutrality guidelines, which included a clause that outlawed carriers from using technology in their data centers to block ads served over their networks.

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