Recruiting digital executives? Do they know how mobile ad-blocking could affect your firm?

Here’s a potentially concerning development all media owners would be advised to keep an eye on: this week, the Financial Times revealed ‘several’ mobile operators are proposing to lock advertising on their networks, with one European provider preparing to do so before the end of this year.

If you’re thinking of recruiting digital executives in the next 12-months, this could be a live issue with which they (and you) might have to deal.

The ad-blocking technology, which could potentially prevent millions of users from seeing adverts in web pages and apps, has been developed by Shine, an Israeli business whose shareholders include Li Ka-shing – Li also controls Hutchison Whampoa, which owns the Three network and is preparing to buy O2.

I’ll be honest with you – I use an ad-blocker on my home PC, and I don’t believe that, given the choice, most consumers would voluntarily opt into mobile ads; but most senior decision makers we speak to are expecting mobile to account for an increasing proportion of their digital revenues moving forward – even if very few of them have cracked it just yet.

It’s estimated that marketers will spend around $69bn on mobile ads this year, a number that has more than tripled in two years; but would that number be under threat if operators clamped down on mobile ads? How can it be good for the expansion of fledgeling mobile development teams if there is a crackdown like the one outlined by the FT?

Big tech and digital media companies – like Google, AOL and Yahoo – have the most to lose here. It seems likely mobile networks are targeting them specifically, in order to force them to give up a chunk of their revenues, but smaller media owners should also be concerned by this move as generating and increasing mobile ad revenues is increasingly an integral part of their plans.

While it seems unlikely that networks will go for the nuclear option of blocking everything, it’s still one to keep tabs on.

As a consequence, if you’re planning to recruit digital executives in the near future, it would be good to explore the issue with them in the preliminary stages of any recruitment process to make sure their knowledge is ahead of current, or likely, market fluctuations.