Israel-based ad blocking company Shine has spent the last 18 months or so selling in its “nuclear weapon” to thwart off the apparent ad tech threat: a network-level solution that lets mobile carriers block ads at a network level.
Recently, Shine had shown signs of softening its somewhat antagonistic approach.
Now it’s dropping it altogether.
On Friday, Shine announced it had stopped selling ad blocking solutions to mobile carriers and it was rebranding to “Rainbow.”
Rainbow says it has “quietly” been working with the mobile advertising industry over the past few months to create a consumer mobile ad blocker that only blocks ads that don’t meet industry standards (Such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s “LEAN” principles). The previous version of Shine aimed to block all ads.
Consumers sign up for the Rainbow ad blocker by opting in through their carrier or internet service provider, via a web portal, SMS, or call center.
For advertisers and publishers looking to get their ads unblocked, Rainbow works in a similar way to Adblock Plus’ “Acceptable Ads” whitelisting process. Their ads must be submitted for approval. However, while Adblock Plus charges the biggest advertising companies — like Google, Amazon, Taboola, and Criteo — for this service, Rainbow will provide it for free.
Rainbow is also working with three “design partners”: Mobile carrier Three (more on why that came about later), a “top three” global advertising agency group, and a “global media/content group” to help it build the ad verification system. It plans to bring on more partners as the rollout progresses.
How Rainbow plans to make money — and the challenge in pivoting from being an aggressor to being a partner
Rainbow will generate revenue by selling data and ad verification services to advertisers, agencies, and ad tech vendors. It has some advantage over competitors in this space because its network-level technology gives it access to verified (and anonymized) data about mobile subscribers, rather than having to make probabilistic guesses.
Where it may be at a disadvantage, however, is that Shine has spent the past 18 months yelling at the ad industry, demanding it cleans up its act. In a sector that is all about building relationships, it may be difficult to convince some people that Rainbow has softened its image and is a company they can trust to do business with.
To that end, Shine appointed James Collier as its chief revenue officer last year. Collier, who was previously at Experian-backed AdTruth and is based in London, has been tasked with meeting potential customers and stakeholders — so far around 150 different brands, agencies, ad networks, trade organisations, and publishers — to convince them of Rainbow’s new approach.
We asked when Shine/Rainbow suddenly started to work with the ad industry rather than combatting it — and why.
Collier said: “I would say that the commitment to do so happened at the point I joined the business, but there wasn’t a particular Eureka moment; there was a long period of consultation with the industry and a great deal of analysis done with our carrier partners and prospects. A lot of what needed to be done was to convince carriers that there was a viable opportunity here (vs ad blocking or injection). And I’m glad to say we succeeded, evidenced by our involvement with the industry and the continued support from our investors and carrier partners.”
When Shine’s plans were first mooted, questions were raised about whether it would ever be able to launch after guidelines published by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications in August appeared to prohibit network-level ad blocking. Pivot or not, will this rule still not apply to Rainbow’s business?
Roi Carthy, Rainbow chief marketing officer, said: “Rainbow is full consumer opt-in. It’s a service provided at the request of the consumer, for the benefit of the consumer.”
Three will be the first company to offer the service to its subscribers
Three will be Rainbow’s first partner, offering the ad blocking service to its 9 million UK subscribers from June. There’s a bit of a back story there. Three is owned by billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Hutchinson Whampoa. Ka-shing is also an investor in Shine, through Horizon Ventures.
The mobile carrier was also meant to be Shine’s first customer paying for its ad blocking services, under the old revenue model. But Three admitted it had dropped the plans in November last year, with its chief marketing officer Tom Malleschitz saying at the time: “We don’t believe ad blocking is the solution. We are one of the biggest advertisers in the country and I know if I have annoyed you with my ad, I lose money. It is more about creating something that is inspiring and relevant.”
The Shine/Rainbow rebrand comes after the company raised an undisclosed amount of funding from its existing investors. Carthy declined to disclose the amount. Carthy’s venture capital fund, Initial VC, is also a Shine/Rainbow investor.
Part of the investment will be used to fund the company’s first ever advertising campaign. Ironically, it’s mainly a digital video ad campaign. Here’s one of the four videos in the series, which was created by Contented Brothers:
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