Advertising gobbles 20% of your mobile data

eBay on mobile. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
eBay on mobile. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town - At least a fifth of your mobile data is consumed by advertising - a situation that has prompted the rise of ad blocking software according to international research.

According to a research note from Strand Consult, 20% of data traffic on a smartphone is intrusive advertising.

“This is frequently traffic that subscribers don’t want and haven’t asked for. Video ads, in particular, slow the internet experience and can render in such a way to obstruct the actual content the user requests, not to mention burn out the device battery and run up the customer’s data charges,” Copenhagen-based Strand Consult said in a statement.

In SA, mobile services make up 24.7% of household budgets, almost five times higher than the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) guideline of 5%.

Mobile advertising is big business as companies rush to place their ads on small screens. According to eMarketer, mobile advertising in 2016 will hit $100bn, accounting for more than half of digital advertising spend.

Ad blockers

READ: Advertising malware stalks SA smartphones

But Stand said that some mobile advertising can also be malicious.

“Not only are some ads irrelevant to users, a number may be infiltrated with ‘malvertising’, the malicious practice of embedding malware within legitimate advertising (or even running parallel to legitimate advertising), which can infect users’ systems without even clicking on the ads.”

Security firm Kaspersky Lab recently found that South African mobile phones are being targeted by Trojan malware that employ advertising as the main source of monetisation.

“In the first quarter of 2015, the mobile malware Top 20 contained just one Trojan of this type; by the end of the year they made up more than half of the rating. Despite the fact that these Trojans are designed to download and install advertising applications without the user’s knowledge, they can cause a lot of problems,” Roman Unuchek, senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab USA told Fin24.

In some countries mobile operators have employed ad blockers on their networks to limit the impact of intrusive ads for subscribers.

Three in the UK announced plans to introduce ad blocking across its UK and Italian networks to protect customers from “annoying” adverts.

“While operators want to protect their customers and meet their needs, many advertisers are understandably upset. In some countries, the use of ad blockers may be as high as 20% in some customer segments,” Strand said.

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