US carriers want to introduce smartphone “Screen Zero” lock screen ads

The market for Android smartphones may be competitive, and carriers sometimes sell every inch of a smartphone to the highest bidder in an effort to wring every last penny of profit out of it. Packed-in, uninstallable crapware apps clog up your app drawer and promote their services. Because the limits for packed-in applications are far lower than for Play Store apps, data-hungry companies like Facebook sometimes pay for a location where they can more easily gather data.

According to a TechCrunch report, one new business is developing a new, more aggressive type of crapware: lock screen advertisements. The “Glance” company is a subsidiary of the Indian ad tech giant InMobi, and according to TechCrunch, the lock screen “content” company “plans to debut its lock screen platform on Android phones in the US within two months.”

Glance’s app takes over the lock screen in full-screen mode. It appears to be a general swipe-heavy social network, similar to TikTok or Snapchat Discover, however, it only displays Glance content. Consider how annoying it would be if every time you turned on your phone, you were faced with an auto-playing video from a popular off-brand TikToker.

On its website, the company claims “unparalleled reach” and “genuine interaction” with its captive audience. InMobi’s founder and CEO, Naveen Tewari, described his company’s approach to Forbes India as “customers will switch from searching content to consuming what is offered to them.”

As a preinstalled app, Glance can collect lots of data.

Everything here is, of course, simply a giant advertisement. The company’s third main navigation link is “Advertisers,” where the business page offers “a friction-free campaign” on “screen zero”—the first screen customers view when they switch on their phones. A cursory look at Glance’s “business” page reveals that it’s difficult to tell what’s paid material and what isn’t. It’s possible that it’s entirely sponsored content.

The advertising website displays a variety of “success stories,” such as a cryptocurrency quiz game offered by a cryptocurrency app, which “educated” users on cryptocurrencies and increased sales. The first question in Glance’s demo video is, “Which of these assets produced more returns in 2020: Bitcoin or Gold?” (Bitcoin is down 65 percent since the video was posted in November 2021.)

Glance also claims to be able to provide a massive amount of personal data to advertising for targeting and tracking. It displays their demographics, location, interests selected in the app, language, and phone model. Glance is sponsored by Google. Glance claims Vivo, Motorola, Xiaomi, Oppo, Realme, and Samsung as partners and claims to have “>80 percent reach on all new smartphones” in India.


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