US carriers want to bring “screen zero” lock screen ads to smartphones

Enlarge / Glance’s ad copy promises “authentic engagement” with its lock screen billboard. (credit: Glance)

Android smartphones can be a rough market, and to squeeze as much profit out of a phone as possible, carriers often sell every square inch of a phone to the highest bidder. Packed-in, often un-installable crapware apps fill your app drawer and advertise their services. The rules are a lot looser for packed-in apps compared to Play Store apps, so data-hungry companies like Facebook often pay for a spot where they can more easily harvest data.

According to a report from TechCrunch, one new startup is inventing a new, more invasive form of crapware: lock screen ads. The company, “Glance,” is a subsidiary of Indian ad tech company InMobi, and TechCrunch reports the lock screen “content” company is “planning to launch its lock screen platform on Android smartphones in the US within two months.”

Glance’s app is a full-screen takeover of the lock screen. It looks a lot like a generic swipe-heavy social network, like TikTok or Snapchat Discover, but it only shows content from Glance. Imagine if every time you turned on your phone, you were first presented with an auto-playing video from a popular off-brand TikToker, and you get the idea. The company’s website promises “unparalleled reach” and “authentic engagement” from its captive audience. Naveen Tewari, founder and CEO of InMobi, gave a rather dystopian description of his company’s strategy to Forbes India, saying, “Consumers will move from seeking content to consuming what is shown to them.”

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