Sangat Pedas

Telkomsel And XL Pop Ads And How To Opt-out

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screenshot-pop-adIt’s a pretty new phenomenon in Indonesia. I have two paid sim cards from Telkomsel and XL. For both I pay a monthly subscription fee and obviously I pay for the usage. So far no problem. However, both Telkomsel and XL decided to monetize their paying customers just a tad bit more. When you now access the Internet using 3G changes are you will get to see a Pop ad which is basically a complete page take over. Something similar as in this screenshot.

Annoying to say the least. Also pretty much illegal in most of the rest of the world. And for good reasons I think. Why? Well, first of all, I pay for this service.

It’s not like I use a website like Tokobagus for free and Tokobagus in return shows me some ads to pay for the bills. No, I actually pay for this service and at the time when I subscribed their service did not include any pop ads. Next, I never did an opt-in for this service, which in my understanding is required by law. But even when not required by law, it would be the proper netiquette. Right? Also, as far as I know and can remember I never got any instructions on how to opt-out.

I will share the opt-out methods in the end of this post.

So far from the user side, but what about the business side? I’m pretty sure there are some legal complications which apparently no one ever brought up. Have another look at the example, someone accesses the Internet, opens the site and in this case gets to see a Pantene ad. My problem with this is that Malesbanget might have an exclusive deal with Elvive shampoo so this ad actually hurts business for Malesbanget. Most users will think it’s an ad from that specific site so to me it comes awfully close to trademark and/or copyright infringement. I wonder how Yahoo or other major portals react if they see their sites indirectly being monetized by a telco.

From client perspective I also see some troubles. What if I open an offensive site or a site for cancer patients and the telco would pop a Pantene ad? I’m not sure if this actually can happen but so far the ads seem pretty much random and just related to opening an Internet connection.

Last but not least, telco’s risk destroying the ecosystem they so desperately need. The source of income for (mobile) sites is a lot depending on advertising and that by itself that’s already hard enough. So what happens if telco’s take away the source of income for websites? Well, sites will die. Sites that the telco’s need hard to sell their 3G subscriptions and data traffic.

For me it just seems like to much of a monopoly (or oligopoly as you wish) and a concentration of power. Telco’s should get their revenues from subscription, not take advertising money away from websites. Obviously I can understand the telco’s, if the government allows the model why not use it? But what are the chances that a government, who is partial owner of the largest telco in the country, will enforce a law prohibiting telcos from pushing pop-ads?


So can you get rid of these pop-ads? Well to find out I contacted both Telkomsel and XL through twitter and both we’re kind enough to clarify.

So basically, for XL you need to write “STOP” and send it to 811.

Telkomsel apparently hasn’t got an automated opt-out system so far. They advice me to send my data (number, name, place of birth and mother’s maiden name) in a twitter DM to them and they will then take care of it. Somehow it doesn’t seem all that attractive to DM Telkomsel information which is also used by banks to confirm my identity.


I own a digital advertising company. This article is totally opinionated and I’m extremely biased.

  • Nemo

    Axis is also monetizing their customers using these ads