EE Could Block Mobile Adverts While Yahoo Could Block Emails of Free Tariff Customers For Using Ad Blockers

Mobile network operator EE (formerly ‘Everything Everywhere) is reportedly at the beginning of discussions to allow its 27 million plus customer base to block adverts on their mobile phones. At the same time Yahoo has begun live testing of a tool that will block customers’ emails if the interface detects that they are using an ad blocker.

Everything’s Slowing Down

Adverts appearing in the middle of screen forcing you to search for the cross to close them down, videos playing automatically, adverts bordering and between the content, sponsored links everywhere, having to watch an advert before you get to see your chosen YouTube video, pages juddering and slowing down or taking an age to load under the weight of advertising. This is all too familiar to most of us.

The fact that we don’t have a choice, and have little control over advertising content (as well as being regularly frustrated by it) are according to EE the reason for them “starting an important debate” about the subject by publicly considering a proposal to bring in network-level ad blocking tools for their customers. The move is likely to send a warning shot across the bows of big ad players to make them think a little about their practices.

Annoying & A Threat

A recent Broadband Genie survey of 2,501 Internet users showed that 64% use ad blockers and it would seem from the results that most have no sympathy with advertisers as 82% said that they didn’t care about the cost of ad blockers to advertisers. Furthermore 60% said they saw ads as a threat to their online security!

These results seem to support what many of us already know from our own experience - that online advertising can be at the very least annoying, and it is having a negative impact on our user experience of websites and networks.

Yahoo - No Ads, No Email?

The other side of the debate appears to be supported by Yahoo who are reportedly running a test, currently for a small number of Yahoo Mail users in the US, that could see the development and introduction of a tool that will block free tariff customers’ emails if they’re discovered to be using an ad blocker.

No Adverts = Pay Subscriptions

Adverts may be seen as annoying but the fact that many Internet users seem to be unaware of is that a large amount of digital publishing and apparently free content is in fact supported by advertising.

A recent survey by YouGov commissioned by the Internet Advertising Bureau showed that less than half of UK adults know that most free content online from services such as newspapers, social networks and music streaming sites is funded by advertising. What’s more only 10% said they were less likely to block ads after being told.

Web advertisers are therefore keen to remind us that if the web didn’t have ads, most sites could only exist by charging subscriptions. IAB chief executive, Guy Phillipson recently made the point in a Guardian interview that “Those unaware that most online services are free – or cost very little – because sites make money from showing visitors ads, could be in for a shock if websites start charging for access because ad blocking reduces their revenue from advertising”.