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Ad-Blocking Firm Shine Calls on Carriers to Deliver Mobile Ads Toll Free

The move appears to be aimed at drawing attention to the company's own ad-blocking technology.

Feng Li / Getty Images

Shine, a startup that hopes to convince carriers to install its ad-blocking technology, has taken out an ad in Monday’s Financial Times calling on carriers and advertisers to find a way to make sure consumers aren’t the ones paying for mobile ads.

Shine marketing chief Roi Carthy said he doesn’t especially care whether it is the carrier or the advertiser that picks up the tab.


“The consumer, in any case, should not be footing the bill to subsidize billion-dollar businesses,” Carthy said in a telephone interview. Shine argues that ads are currently eating up as much as half of a mobile user’s data bill.

It’s clearly a self-serving gambit to raise attention to its own service, which is one of a number of ad-blocking technologies out there, and has been pitching itself to carriers. But Shine is no longer alone on the mobile ad-blocking bandwagon. Apple itself is including ad-blocking in iOS 9.

Blocking advertising is a dangerous game, though, since it is advertising that pays for much of the content on the Web — both mobile and desktop.

As for Shine’s notion that advertising should be paid by the advertiser and not mobile customers, it’s not totally unheard of. AT&T has been doing an experiment for a couple of years now on sponsored data, the equivalent of toll-free mobile advertising. The testing continues, but it has yet to advance beyond an early pilot. Shine would appear to have at least a few sympathetic ears inside some carriers. One Deutsche Telekom executive proposed that mobile ads be delivered toll-free to customers, with the bill being picked up by the ad networks and big apps like Facebook and Google that are serving up the ads.

One of the big criticisms of such plans is that it gives even more power to big companies. Carthy rejects that, saying it should be a cost of doing business.

“If the cost of gas goes up and you are running a trucking business … that’s just the case,” Carthy said.

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