Being bombarded with advertisements on our YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, and other social media feeds is already a pretty terrible experience. Now Iimagine seeing ads flooding your lock screen first thing in the morning. That’s what U.S. mobile carriers want to do to Android smartphones within the next two months.
TechCrunch reported this week that India-based mobile ad company Glance has been in talks with carriers such as T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T about plans to launch lock screen ads on several Android phones as soon as next month, according to a source familiar with the matter. That source requested anonymity because “the deliberations were ongoing and private.”
Glance is a subsidiary of mobile marketing giant InMobi Group, whose fundraising efforts in 2019 secured Google as an investor. It currently serves ads to 400 million Android phones in Asian markets, including the budget version of Samsung phones. Valued at around $2 billion, it usually partners with smartphone manufacturers to have lock screen ads pre-installed into the devices.
Glance serves as a dynamic lock screen that rests on top of the AndroidOS UI overlay. Instead of seeing the wallpaper on your lock screen — like a photo of your family, significant other, or (in my case) a favorite video game character — you would see a torrent of content promoting news, games, videos, and other advertisements. The only way to get past those pesky ads is to unlock your screen and go about your business.
Despite its success overseas, the notion of Glance putting ads on Android lock screens with support from U.S. mobile carriers is a recipe for trouble. Yes, advertisements are necessary for companies and social media influencers to generate revenue, but invading the home screens of our mobile devices every single day seems like an unwelcome next step. We’re already forced to contend with targeted ads on every website we visit, so to have to see the same ads every day on our phone’s lock screen is the rancid cherry on top of a foul cake.