The online video advertisements industry, which is pegged to be a Rs 500 crore business in India, could see some regulations coming its way. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is in the process of examining the problem of automatic video advertisements that buffer and use internet data on a website without the explicit authorisation of a consumer.
A Trai official, on condition of anonymity, told The Indian Express that the regulator was trying to resolve the larger problem of “involuntary download of data” to bring in more transparency to the user’s data consumption. The official gave the example of a user surfing a news website for the publication’s content, but ending up consuming data involuntarily due to buffering of video advertisements.
“Typically, I have not come to that site to visit those advertisement, I have come to that site to consume its content. The video ads on a webpage keep on buffering and downloading. Because of this a user’s data is consumed without the permission or authorisation, which is a serious problem,” the Trai official said. He explained that the regulator was trying to be proactive in consumer protection for data services and said: “We have to be a bit proactive in consumer protection as far as data is concerned because many people do not understand the complicated metrics used for internet data, and they end up finishing 80-85 per cent of their data packs without actually using that much.”
Last year too, the Trai had come out with a regulation for telecom companies to inform consumers if certain amount of data was consumed from their packs. With the onset of newer technologies for internet connectivity such as 4G and wireless broadband that have resulted in faster internet speeds, Indian marketers have lately started putting more money into internet video campaigns.
One such model works on Google Inc’s global video sharing website YouTube, where a company pays more for an advertisement that cannot be skipped by a user. This advertisement precedes the video the user intends to watch. The Trai official cited above said that it is argued that while these video advertisements are played, the video that the user wants to watch is buffered and thus the process results in a seamless experience. “However, with this the consumer ends up using his data without intending to on that advertisement,” the official said.
On Monday, Trai issued a pre-consultation paper on the much debated topic of net-neutrality, and said it would explore the “unreasonable” traffic management tools deployed by telecom companies in the light of surging data consumption in the country. The regulator, with the process, plans to explore the traffic management tools that end up violating the tenets of net-neutrality.