October 6, 2015 —
There is much debate going on between the mobile advertising camp, the regulatory camp and the MVNO camp.
Advertising is a part of life. There is just no getting away from it. But in most media, one has some control over it. if you don’t like a TV ad, you can simply change the channel, or mute volume and grab a beer, scotch, wine, snacks, whatever. You can even try to talk to your kids for that instant. But the point is you have some control. Same goes for the various flavors of audio broadcasts – even the Internet gives you some control. If you don’t like the site, simply close your browser.
Mobile devices are a bit different. You do things with mobile devices that you can’t with others. And, the piece de resistance of that is you are paying for data. So incessant, worthless advertising costs you money.
And, there are times when ads are just obnoxious. Geolocation is a prime example. Say you are in San Francisco, or any place for that matter, and happen to get lost; or are looking for automated teller location; or say you have a minor medical emergency and are looking for an urgent care clinic. Do you really want your phone popping up ads all over your map? You really can’t close the smartphone in such circumstances.
There is some heated discussion around this. An Israeli company called Shine has a product that can be used by carriers to block advertising over their networks – a way to bridle the ad tsunami that is ramping up. It allows carriers to block ads across the board. Some say it is a way for carriers to become good content citizens. But it also gives carriers some negotiating power with advertisers to share revenue. However, some say this is in violation of the Net Neutrality act. How that will shake out is yet to be seen.
But there are arguments for free-for-all ads as well. High-level; advertising is a revenue stream. It is tried, true and proven. And stifling advertising stifles revenue. Some say that it will increase the cost of the “free” Internet (funny how I pay for that free Internet as well as cable or satellite TV and both still have ads). However, that is much too convoluted to discuss in a few hundred words here.
In the end, no matter how many, or what type of arguments surround this, there is a bigger issue here – privacy. It is well known that ads track you. Plus, they eat up your data, and can compromise that privacy. Fundamentally, consumers have the right to protect themselves from being “tracked, profiled and targeted” by advertising technologies, or ad tech as it has become to be called.
There is currently a lot of discussion around this. And, there is no doubt that some sort of adware blocking should be in effect. Whether it is at the carrier level such as Shine’s technology, or at the app level on the phone, or some other yet to be developed platform that intercepts mobile advertising is still up for debate. As privacy bubbles toward the top of the priority pile, watch for a lot more activity around mobile ad management.