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Shine Technologies unveils ad tech veteran James Collier as CRO, and lifts the lid on its business model

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By The Drum | Editorial

July 14, 2016 | 7 min read

Controversial ad blocking outfit Shine Technologies has announced ad tech veteran James Collier as its chief revenue officer, as the outfit also reveals more about its product roadmap including an ‘ad verification platform’.

James Collier is Shine Technologies new CRO

Ad tech veteran will head up Shine's London team

Collier will head up the London office of Shine Technologies (which earlier this year announced a tie-up with UK mobile operator Three), continuing its crusade to help clean up ad tech, as the company’s chief marketing officer Roi Carthy would put it.

A new CRO, a London office, and a mission to eliminate 'malvertising'

Collier, ex- AdTruth, Google, News International, among many others, is tasked with collaborating with other stakeholders in the ad tech sector to evolve the current online advertising experience to one that puts consumer consent and choice at the centre”.

Presently, the Israel-based outfit has ‘malvertising’ (i.e. ad tech that injects nefarious software on consumers’ devices for a range of unethical, or illegal, reasons) in its crosshairs.

Speaking with The Drum, Collier described the dual trend advertisers turning to ad tech, and the attraction this holds for organised criminals as a “confluence of crisis that leads to the proliferation of malware”, adding that in the mobile advertising sphere it is particularly rampant.

In a statement, he added: “As an industry we need to work together to deal with some of the most pressing issues in our marketplace, namely fraud and bad advertising practices that hamper both the publisher’s ability to generate revenue, and brands from being able to attribute the right level of investment in mobile."

Shine chief executive and co-founder Ron Porat added: "James comes to Shine as an advertising & technology sector veteran, with the ideal background and experience to help Shine evolve online advertising for the better. I’m positive James will prove incredibly effective as we launch the next phase of Shine."

A new offering

Additionally, Shine is now going to market talking about its product roll out – previously it had only offering mobile operators the ability to block ads that were eating up bandwidth on their networks – with an “ad verification tool” which it will offer predominantly to the long-tail of publishers on the way, according to Shine’s Collier and Carthy.

The proposed platform is still in development (neither Carthy or Collier ruled out a 2016 launch) with the outfit in talks with various stakeholders over how it will operate.

Speaking with The Drum, both parties said the proposed offering will ‘work similarly to any other machine verification process’, and will operate as a ‘plug and play’ where advertisers can upload their creative, etc., and then optimise their campaign.

“With operators we can help eradicate malware and fraud,” said Collier, adding that the new offering is “not a whitelisted ad network”.

Rather, it will be another ad platform “with better anti-fraud software”, according to Carthy.

“Publishers have been the least [well]-serviced out of ad tech, but if you look at it historically, if malware gets eliminated, then CPMs go up,” added Collier, emphasising that the intended offering is not an additional ‘tax’, or a ‘racket’.

“The industry has looked internally for too long,” interjected Carthy.

Speaking earlier with the Drum, he explained his opinion that: “There is a lot of abusive tech out there, and absolutely no regulatory measures for the control of it.

“We believe that you need a commercial entity to battle this thing. You need a company that is as motivated to protect consumers, as ad tech is to monetise them.”

A pivot for Shine?

When asked if the proposed offering represented a pivot from being a consumer protection outfit, to a more fully-fledged ad tech offering, Carthy answered: “No … We knew that it would take a comprehensive approach to create a better advertising experience for consumers.

“We knew it would take us a year and a half to create the right market conditions on both the advertising industry side, and the mobile carrier side. And like clockwork, here we are working with brands, agencies and associations to do create a framework that has the consumer at the centre.”

Last week research outfit ExchangeWire and The Media Trust published a survey examining levels of awareness on ‘malvertising’, revealing a widespread consensus among the media industry that the threat is on the increase (see graph below).

Is Malware on the increase?

So just why do people block ads ?

Earlier this week, fellow ad blocking outfit Eyeo (the operator of desktop extension AdBlockPlus) published research by itself and HubSpot examining the reasons why some online audiences choose to block ads, with just some of the issues outlined in the chart below.

Eyeo Research on why people block ads

The agency-side view

Speaking with The Drum, Malcolm Poynton, global chief creative officer at Cheil Worldwide, said: "It's time for brands to forget advertising on mobile altogether and to simply create genuinely entertaining and meaningful ways for consumers to engage with them through their mobile devices – this is what will get brands ahead when it comes to people liking them.

"Ad blocking is only going to get more prolific so brands need to ditch the mobile ads and find new ways to connect with their audiences, in a ways that work for the consumer. It's do or die time."

In conversation with The Drum, Norm Johnston, Mindshare’s global chief strategy and digital officer, outlined his view that Shine and other ad blocking companies are simply responding to people’s desires to stop getting bombarded with irrelevant, annoying, intrusive ads, particularly on mobile devices.

He added: "The internet has always had an historical tension between publishers' desire to monetise content and consumers’ wish for a superior consumer experience.

"Ad blocking occurs when that equilibrium becomes unbalanced. In short, annoying people with ads may generate short-term advertising revenue gains but in the end upsets the accepted equilibrium of getting free content in return for non-intrusive advertising.

"The industry – publishers, agencies, advertisers – need to come to their senses and recognise that bad advertising only encourages more ad blocking, which undermines the entire business model of the free Internet established back in 1994. Adopting the IAB’s LEAN principles is a good place to start."

Of course, Mindshare's own client Three - the agency conducts media planning etc. for the operator - is itself exploring ad blocking with Shine (as mentioned above).

When asked if this is ever raised in conversation between the pair, Johnston added: "Three have every right to explore added-value services to its customers. If its customers prefer an ad-free Internet experience, and accept that it may ultimately limit their access to free content, than that’s their choice. Ultimately it’s a personal decision, and Three is only providing the options people want."

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