IAB Europe has expressed its “serious concern” following the announcement that mobile operator Three is to impose network-level ad blocking in the UK and Italy followed by a rapid roll-out of the technology in its other European operations.
Three is partnering with Shine Technologies, with the aim of reducing mobile advertising experienced by customers browsing when using the Three network.
The controversial technology will be used initially on Three’s UK and Italian networks, before a “rapid roll-out” in other markets.
There are concerns that such a system will be used by mobile networks to siphon money from online advertisers.
Companies are already paying Adblock Plus, one of the most popular ad-blocking tools, to “whitelist” their sites and ad networks.
But while adblockers are growing in popularity, they’re still a little-used tool among the entire populace. Offering that technology at the network level could increase their usage dramatically and jeopardise businesses that rely on ad revenue.
In a statement, IAB Europe (the trade body for digital marketing across Europe) said: “The ad-funded Internet provides consumers with a rich universe of informational, educational, scientific, entertainment and business services at little or no cost at the point of consumption.
“Ad blocking threatens the Internet as we know it and penalises vulnerable consumers and small companies who depend on ad-funded online services, as well as undermining media diversity and independence in Europe. Moreover, imposition of ad blocking at the network level is at variance with the principle of net neutrality and a clear interference in freedom of commerce.
“The digital advertising industry believes that choice at the individual user level is the way forward and is deeply invested in addressing user experience issues such as latency. The IAB’s L.E.A.N. ads programme is testimony to that commitment.”