There have been questions about what this means to the content we access and whether or not mobile broadband users will need to do anything to change their browsing habits.
To explain this here are a few of the questions around this development and the corresponding answers.
What is ad blocking?
As the name suggests it’s the blocking of adverts that you see when you access websites that are running adverts or promotions. Usually, it’s supported by different kinds of ad blocking web extensions that you can activate on your browser to avoid seeing adverts. Some of the more common ad blocking services like Adblock Plus also have mobile browser plug ins that works
How is Econet involved?
Econet’s deal with Shine is set to introduce adblocking at the network level. This means that subscribers don’t have to download and activate a browser extension. Econet will have the ad blocking software installed in its data centres and every time you access a site that has ads that can be blocked they won’t show up.
When is it starting?
No date has been provided, but Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has been selected as the first network under the Econet Group to activate the service.
How do I activate it?
Econet has said that it will be automatic – subscribers don’t have to click on anything or download any application or extension to set it up
What sort of ads are being blocked?
Econet is yet to offer details on this but according to the kind of network level ad blocking that Shine has carried out in other markets, it will be on display ads. In an interview with Techcrunch earlier this year, Shine’s Chief Marketing Officer was reported as having said that their software is focused on blocking banner ads, pop-ups, pop-unders
In an interview with Techcrunch earlier this year, Shine’s Chief Marketing Officer Roi Carthy was reported as having said that their software is focused on blocking banner ads, pop-ups, pop-unders and all third party ad content. It’s the sort of stuff that we all identifying know as the irritating ad
It’s the sort of stuff that we all identify as the irritating ad content that requires some effort to dismiss it.
How will subscribers benefit?
Subscribers are going to save their mobile data, and according to Shine, lots of it. The company has said that an analysis of Econet’s network performance showed that ads have been using up to 40% of subscribers’ data. A block of these ads will translate to a huge relief on the way data is used up. Econet expects this to help in dealing with complaints against dissapearing airtime.
Ad blocking will also speed up the browsing experience on sites since all that ad content takes time to load while using up broadband resources.
There’s also the benefit of privacy that comes with not being geo-targeted or tagged by browsing behaviour. then there’s the dismissal of annoying click-bait ads that are at times irrelevant.
How big a deal for Zimbabwe is this?
Besides being the first large scale ad blocking move in Zimbabwe (and probably in Africa) Econet is also the biggest provider of internet services in the country. Econet broadband serves 79.2% of the Zimbabwean mobile broadband market which is also a huge quotient of the overall market that has internet access. Zimbabwe is a mobile-first country with over 95% of connections made via mobile broadband connections.
This means that Econet’s adoption of adblocking tech has a decision effect on online advertising campaigns that brands have been running aimed at the local market.