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Three UK will test ad blocking

News, 27 May 2016

LONDON: Three UK, the mobile phone network, will conduct a 24-hour test next month to block ads for subscribers who are willing to take part in a trial.

In a move likely to concern media groups and advertisers, Three is expected to carry out the trial in the week beginning June 13 and it means signed-up customers will see no ads when they browse the internet or use apps during the trial.

The carrier, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison Holdings, said it wanted to improve the mobile experience for its customers by ensuring they don't pay data charges to receive ads, their privacy is protected and that they don't receive intrusive or unwanted ads, the Independent reported.

"The current ad model is broken," said Tom Malleschitz, CMO at Three UK. "It frustrates customers, eats up their data allowance and can jeopardise their privacy. Something has to change."

Three announced in February that it would introduce ad blocking technology across its British and Italian networks and next month's trial is a sign of the seriousness of its intent.

Malleschitz told Business Insider UK that the company's internal tests have shown that ads account for 20% of the data that passes through its network and that can rise to as high as 50% in some countries.

That would not benefit low-income customers with only a small data tariff because the ads would use up a significant amount of their monthly allowance.

He said advertising can work when it is relevant and that the problem Three is trying to overcome is with advertisers who serve irrelevant ads.

"If something is wrong, what's the point? I would pay [more] to reach you if I can put my ads forward to people who are getting inspired by [them] and not annoyed. This is basically where we want to be," he said.

He added that Three also has been working closely with Ofcom, the UK media regulator, which he said is "happy with the principles" of the plan.

In addition, Three is working with the advertising industry and online publishers about what type of ads should be blocked as well as who pays for the data costs.

Data sourced from Independent, Business Insider; additional content by Warc staff