EE considering network restrictions on mobile adverts

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CEO Olaf Swantee has launched a strategic review into ads that appear when browsing the web on smartphones

Olaf Swantee has said EE could introduce technology that will allow customers to restrict online on their smartphones.

The EE CEO told the Sunday Telegraph that he has launched a strategic review into whether the operator should give its 27 million mobile customers the quantity and type of advertising that appears on their devices.

The mobile advertising market is believed to be worth around £2 billion a year in the UK, but Swantee said EE is looking at creating new tools that could block some form of advertising on mobile sites.

“For EE, this is not just about ad blocking,” Swantee told the Telegraph. “It is about starting an important debate around customer choice, controls and the level of ads customers receive.

“This is an important debate that needs to happen soon. That’s why we’ve kicked off a strategic review internally to consider our plans.”

It would mark the first time a UK operator has blocked ads at a network level. A Financial Times report in May claimed a number of European operators were considering the deployment of ad-blocking technology from Israeli start-up Shine.

Research company eMarketer in March predicted that UK marketers would spend £3.2 billion (€4.5 billion/$4.8 billion) on mobile marketing in 2015, or 20.1 per cent of total media ad spending in the country. That compares to the £2.2 billion spent in 2014, which equated to a 14.7 per cent share of total spending.

Swantee said the aim was not to block all mobile ads, but to instead focus on the most intrusive ones.

“Not all ads are bad. When a business gets it right, it’s appreciated and sparks a connection. But when it’s intrusive or crass it can drive people crazy,” he added.

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