Good news for consumers, bad news for mobile phone companies from the new, updated net neutrality rules from European telecommunications regulators, which have effectively knocked on the head emerging plans by the mobile telcos to black ads on their networks. Groups like Facebook, Google, Yahoo etc will be happy, as will be advertisers generally, although individual consumers will still be able to use ad blocking software.
Guidelines published by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) this week advised local telecoms regulators in EU countries (including Ofcom in Brexiting Britain) that while consumers should be allowed to install “ad blocking” apps on their phones, network-level blocking should be prohibited. A clause buried in BEREC’s “net neutrality” guidelines stated that telecoms companies “should not block, slow down, alter, restrict, interfere with, degrade or discriminate advertising when providing an IAS (internet access service)”.
One group who will be very pleased is traditional print media companies, plus advertising, marketing groups and their clients. The Financial Times commented this morning: “The advent of ad-blocking technology has set the telecoms and publishing worlds apart. The technology threatens to erode the revenue of media businesses that spend billions on mobile advertising.”
But print media and ad companies still have to battle a greater immediate problem: individual consumers using ad blocking on their mobiles. At the moment ad-blocking software is more prevalent on laptops and PCs, and while it is growing on smartphones, it is more used in markets like China and parts of Europe than Australia and the US. That has led some mobile phone companies to consider implementing a network-wide block on adverts to appeal to customers sick of invasive marketing that eats into their data allowance.