O2 joins UK carriers ready to hand over ad control to consumers

Anne Freier

In Mobile Advertising. November 26, 2015

UK mobile carrier, O2, has announced it is testing ad blocking software at network level. The news follows the likes of telecoms company EE, which recently vowed to offer its consumers greater control over the ads they see on their mobile devices.
O2 testing ad blockers
Source: o2.co.uk
Robert Franks, Managing Director of Digital Commerce, Telefonica (which owns O2), says:
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“We are absolutely looking at [network-level ad blocking] technology. We are looking at these technologies to see if they can help our customers with some of the bad practices and disruptive experiences that are happening. It is not in an advertisers’ interest to spam customers or do things to create a terrible experience. If the way to raise the bar is to look at these [ad blocking] technologies, whether through a mobile network, or a combination of apps and browser extensions as Apple is doing to address some of the behaviors these [ad tech] intermediaries are executing, I think that’s fine. But I don’t see it as a polarized debate between ‘do you have advertising or don’t you have advertising.”

Both EE and O2 have been speculated to be in talks with Israelian Shine Technologies, which provides ad blocking at network level. However, Shine declined to comment on commercial discussions, saying that it would leave announcements up to the companies that it was working with.
O2 hasn’t yet committed to implement ad blockers, but is testing various options at this stage. A spokesperson added:

“We are looking at this area with interest from various standpoints.  We are not yet looking at specific products or capabilities, but rather reviewing the market and what is happening. There are several options open in this space which we are keen to learn about. No decisions have been made at this level.”

However, the company faces growing concern among its users and has received multiple complaints about badly targeted ads. In addition, many mobile owners are worried at the heavy data consumption from ads, poor creative choices as well as being interrupted. Privacy concerns have also crept up among business owners.