Friday, May 15, 2015

Major Ad Blocking Test Coming in Europe

Several European mobile operators plan to block advertising--not content--carried by major app providers. At first blush, that sounds like trouble. But blocking of ads, while allowing content access, appears to be a lawful practice.

In past instances where such ad blocking has been tried by linear TV distributors, content owners who rely on ad revenues have been able to pressure linear video distributors into limiting or halting such practices.

Whether that ultimately will prove to be lawful, over time, is the issue. It always is possible laws could be changed. But, for the moment, the issue is simply a power contest between ISPs and major ad-supported app providers.

The ad blocking is enabled by software that prevents most types of advertising from loading in web pages and apps, though it does not interfere with “in-feed” ads of the kind used by Facebook and Twitter.

Consumers have an indirect stake in the outcome, since nearly all content and software which can be used for no incremental cost (“free”) is subsidized by advertising. If the ability to advertise is prevented, the revenue model underpinning the content and app usage disappears.

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