European mobile carriers may soon begin blocking ads from Google and other ad firms

European mobile carriers may soon begin blocking ads from Google and other ad firms
According to a new report, at least one carrier in Europe has installed software that is able to block online ads from the likes of Google other ad-driven companies. The unnamed carrier will, as per The Financial Times, activate the software by the end of this year, and the opt-in system could well prompt a shake-up in the world of mobile advertising.

The software is powered by Israeli start-up Shine, but while it may seem like the carrier in question is doing all this out of the goodness of its heart, there is, somewhat predictably, an apparent ulterior motive. See, Shine is backed by Li Ka-shing, a very wealthy individual who just so happens to own telecommunications outfit Hutchison Whampoa, parent company of major European network operator Three. By jumping into bed with carriers and getting Shine's software up and running, Li Ka-shing could make a significant dent in the ad revenue of Google et al, pushing such firms to concede a portion of their revenue.

The underlying incentive for carriers to implement software like Shine is to reduce bandwidth. Ads contribute significantly to overall traffic, but with blocking features in place, the load could be lightened, and, in turn, services expanded. If all of this goes into action, there's a chance that ad firms like Google could be pushed to share the wealth, in giving up some of their ad revenue. Carriers may then be able to set up paid-for ad-blocking system that could permit the likes of Google to continue about their business, but while losing a sizeable chunk to the blocking system of the network providers.

Mobile consumers would surely be stoked at a substantial quantity of the Web's ads being obscured, but the bully-boy tactics will doubtlessly ruffle the feathers of Google and other big-named prospective targets. Not only could the blocking software have a significant effect on revenue -- hindering the progress of free services like the Android software -- but the inescapable issue of net neutrality may also come into play

After all, net neutrality laws state that a network's data must be managed with equality and impartiality. If certain carriers begin automatically obscuring the ads of certain major players, they could land themselves in hot water. The fact that this appears to be an opt-in scheme, however, means that there wouldn't necessarily be a net neutrality breach, so instead, expect to see plenty of lobbying and remonstration from the Web's major ad companies if Shine's software begins to take effect. 

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24 Comments

1. Cheezwiz

Posts: 500; Member since: Dec 29, 2014

Rest assured, if this affects advertising revenue, you can bet that the loss will be moved to the consumer somehow. I wonder if it could mean that phones will cost even more on the front end?

8. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Worst comes to worst, Google will just show a "Google search has been blocked by your carrier" message when it detects who your carrier is (through your IP)...increasing the price of them already overpriced phones just makes more room for companies like Xiomi and OnePlus (makers of reasonably-priced SmartPhones) to grow.

2. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

This is bad for google if it starts to spread. They are primarily an ad company, and most (I am pretty sure 90%) of their revenue comes from them.

5. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

People hate ads but want free services.... I don't get it. Like youtube, it is a bit over advertised now, but at least most things are free to watch.

15. mrochester

Posts: 999; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

I wouldn't mind paying for services... if they actually gave customers the choice to pay.

19. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

Since you mentioned Youtube, and said it was a bit over advertized, lets just say that some videos/channels have over two hundred active ad-elements displayed on the page. Ad-Block Plus for Chrome has an option to show a number of blocked elements and it's almost never below 50 on Youtube. I manually whitelist any site with less than 5 ad elements on it but what Google is doing is simply too much. Free services sponsored by ad revenue are a lifeline of modern internet, but it needs to be regulated to limit amount and type of ads on the site. Having couple side banners is okay but having pop-ups, media playing ads or ads obstructing actual content is unacceptable.

30. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

I have to agree with you. I can't stand the pop-ups especially, especially when I am on my phone and can't close it due to the x mark being on outside of my screen.

21. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

I do not feel bad for Google because they are able to stay ahead of the game by doing things different. I have been using Microsoft product, trained to deploy their products to the pass 15 years because back then Microsoft is king of IT and they are very good at eliminating threat to their Windows ecosystem. So only the toughest software players remain. Then Google came along, a new unknown company that manage to fly under Microsoft radar. They are unable to cash in billons of dollar while still appearing to be very generous giving stuff away for free. Anyway I hope Google have innovate and reinvent themselves to stay relevant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Google

3. bucky

Posts: 3785; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Might not be the answer here but something really has to be done to minimize ads. It's honestly becoming ruthless. carriers are charging anything they want for data and I wonder how much of my data actually goes towards supplying ads. Perfect example is YouTube. The 30 second ads (sometimes you can't skip them) load in half a second in HD quality while the video takes 5-10 seconds to load in lesser quality.

4. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3137; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

The EU has a serious hard-on for Google. Apple and Microsoft don't depend on ad revenue so they couldn't give a s**t.

26. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

The only reason the mobile carriers (and normal internet providers are thinking of doing this too), is they wanted Google and such to pay for bandwidth, since it uses a lot of bandwidth. So not only consumers would have to pay up, but big firms like Google and Facebook too.

6. j2001m

Posts: 3061; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

Easy, if I was Google, I just redirect any lookups to there network to a bad network page

7. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

Feel bad for the sites that support themselves via ads. They have bandwidth costs too.

9. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

ISP-side ad blocking? I like that, but feel sorry that sites like Phonearena will vanish as they depend on ads...I thinks it's best to live the AdBlocking to consumers to figure out.

14. InJuxHurYlem

Posts: 28; Member since: Oct 07, 2009

Easy answer. Block your services from people using Shine. We'll see how long you last with no ability to search Google, watch Youtube, or check your Gmail. Go to Hotmail? Sure. They have ads too. So does Yahoo search. The bottom line is that if you remove all the ad revenue from the Internet then you lose all the services provided by that ad revenue. What do you, as a consumer want? No ads and no services? Cool. Let's all go back to 1987. Time to stock up on stamps and order a new set of Encyclopedias.

16. bestmvno

Posts: 251; Member since: Mar 07, 2014

Spot on. This company thinks it's hurting Google and other advertisers and wants a piece of the pie? What it would do is destroy many smaller publishers out there that depend on that for a source of income. Millions of websites and blogs would disappear overnight if all of their ads were blocked, and/or every site that does remain will either be owned and run by a giant company, or it will cost money to view all their content. On the other hand, it is sites like phonearena that drive people to block advertising in the first place with intrusive and annoying pop ups, and constant slide under ads that block real content.

17. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I would gladly pay for ad free services. The thing with ads is they are not timed nor do they really care. I live without google daily, except for occasionally seeing YouTube.

18. mrochester

Posts: 999; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

Or just pay actual money for the services we want/need?

23. InJuxHurYlem

Posts: 28; Member since: Oct 07, 2009

Ya, go through your internet history and see how many unique sites you visit per month. Now figure each of them charges you $1 a month. Do the math. Have fun giving your CC out to hundreds of sites and managing all that. Now imagine how many great sites you visit you wouldn't have bothered with if you had to pay to see the content in the first place? And don't think if moves like this aren't prevented that it will stop at those mean advertising services. Carriers already coerced Netflix into paying them money to not throttle their services. The last thing any of us, consumers or providers, want is to have carriers dictating what goes over their network and how.

25. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

When the site is so crap with ads it becomes a problem, I can see the point. Without ad block, PA site is a mess. It will crash my chrome or freeze it, no better on IE. As soon as I put tracking protection on in IE, PA has yet to give me a single problem. I don't mind ads, I understand their place. Also if I had a monthly bucket to pay instead of individual sites I wouldn't mind. Imagine paying say 50/month, you give the site your info, and they take it out of the bucket for a 'premium' version of the site with no ads. This way they don't get my CC info and I can choose to give it that month or not.

20. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

I would be sad if that happened here in the U.S....just kidding, I think it would be hilarious. Offer paid services or say it is paid for with the purchase of the phone, but the bulls**t ad extortion model needs to die, and quickly.

22. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

If its die quickly, Apple will also increase prices for their product. Part of Apple revenues also comes from selling Ads. http://techcrunch.com/2015/02/03/apple-still-the-easy-leader-in-ad-revenue-on-mobile-for-2014-despite-android-gains/

24. EbonyPericarp

Posts: 67; Member since: May 02, 2015

They might start by blocking ads larger than a certain size, forcing the worst offenders to rethink what there're doing.

28. Resiliant unregistered

I have started to think that all the adds directed at you phone as being harassment. Can;t do anything without some add shoved in your face... it is sad to imagine that companies need to resort to sending adds to cellphones to generate revenue. Maybe Microsoft or One Plus will make the move to the top, and not allow adds in their respective OS

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