One topic we've talked about a lot has been in online advertising. Advertising is one of the keys to the free web. Without online advertising, companies like ours can't make money and provide content to you without charging you. Therein lies the main problem with ad blockers.
Until recently, blocking ads on your mobile device was uncommon. Lately, however, it has become a norm. Many mobile browsers allow ad blocking, including Apple's own Safari. Fortunately for content providers and carriers, it is still an opt-in feature.
That could begin to change next month as UK wireless carrier Three will begin testing network level mobile ad blocking. The initial roll out will allow 500,000 current customers to opt-in to the test. This will prevent the devices from accessing the advertising content at all.
The company claims that the move is all about data costs. They believe that the consumer should not be responsible for paying for the bandwidth to transfer the ads. The problem with that theory is that the consumer isn't the only one paying for bandwidth. Anytime an advertisement is accessed, the provider is paying for bandwidth as well. The consumer is also aware that they are visiting a free website that is advertisement supported.
The problem here does not lie with either the consumer or the advertiser; the problem lies with the carrier. If Three truly believes that the consumer should not be paying for bandwidth on certain content the consumer is asking for, then they should stop charging for bandwidth. By making sweeping accusations and a move like this, Three's customers will see a decrease in their data usage, but mostly from sites that are going to block the carrier.
If a site is providing content free of charge, they have to find a way to monetize that content. If a carrier is going to strip a content provider of its ability to pay to produce that content, then the consumers of that content will eventually be penalized.
The trend toward blocking mobile advertising is going to change the Internet, but not for the better.
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