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Even Mobile Telecom Operators Are Ad-Blockers Now

A few countries’ worth of ad views, just gone.
October 1, 2015, 3:40pm

It's official: ads on your phone are just a plaything now, because even mobile telecom operators are out to block them. Digicel, a Jamaica-based operator, announced yesterday that it would have ad companies pay, lest they get their ads blocked for subscribers in Central America, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific.

"Companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook talk a great game and take a lot of credit when it comes to pushing the idea of broadband for all – but they put no money in," said Denis O'Brien, chairman of the Digicel Group, in a statement.

While the decision might not make a serious dent in publishing revenues—after all, how often do visitors from small islands figure into the publishers' spreadsheets?—the precedent is perhaps more telling. Consumers aren't the only ones with the executive power to turn off ads. Even telecoms, usually flush with cash, can hold ads and therefore publishers' salaries at ransom.

Ever since Apple introduced content-blocking tools on apps using mobile Safari, ostensibly to let developers block cookies, scripts, and other page-slowing elements, the publishing sphere has been awash in discussions about how make their ad tech more palatable, considering that it's long been stagnant and resource-heavy. Could a modern newspaper subscription model work? Or how about no content at all? Perhaps the only ethical way to consume the web is simply to not use it at all. Now that's an idea.