Here, have some mobile ads

POSTED BY Global Administrator
Telefonica has launched Amobee’s mobile advertising solution across eight of its European and Latin American markets, with deployments expected in its other territories by the end of the year, and - get this - the customers aren’t getting anything in return. Well, this is novel. As Ambrose Silk once observed to himself, Gawd strike me pink. Previously, consumers signing up to advertising did so on the basis that they were signing up to an ad-funded service: they tolerated the ads so that they could get free texts or minutes (a la Blyk or Virgin Mobile USA) or content (3 UK has been doing a nice line in ad-supported videoclips for a couple of years now). Indeed, this has been (and remains) the model embraced by pretty much every medium which wanted an additional revenue stream: thus, in television, commercials are the trade off for receiving Emmerdale, Corrie, Simon Cowell and quasi-celebrities eating rats in a faux jungle; in the cinema, we have munched popcorn through Pearl & Dean before the main feature; heck, even in the newspaper colour supplements you might find an article or two amongst the myriad photographs of models wearing flimsy pieces of cloth at not-so-flimsy prices. But not in this case. You sign up for the advertisements, and that’s all you get. (“Lord love a duck”, thought Ambrose.)

Novel; but also bold. And, quite possibly, worth a punt. Because the advertisements that people will be signing up for will be personalized; in the UK, the opt-in scheme – marketed as O2 More – matches preference information which users give to O2 with data that O2 holds on those users, including phone usage and location. Thus, according to O2:

“ If a customer says that they are interested in sports and O2 knows they roamed in Switzerland over the winter, a deal on a skiing holiday could be offered to that customer through O2 More.”

Personalised advertising is not in itself a new phenomenon. Facebook knows from my profile that I like Jethro Tull and Fairport Convention, and so for the past two years it has accordingly been trying to sell me T-shirts featuring Ian Anderson standing on one leg. But this is personalization at a fairly superficial level, not far advanced from the simple process of, say, booking a slot for a fast car commercial during an episode of Fifth Gear.

For many years, operators have had access to a wealth of data about their consumers: who they are, where they live, what they browse for and (through GPS) where there are. Allied to a well designed questionnaire completed by opt-in customers, this data is manna from Heaven for retailers. Note my tone earlier in the blog: tolerated; trade-off. We don’t like the majority of ads that are put in front of us: we turn the page; focus on the popcorn; press the fast-forward button on the PVR. If we receive advertisements that are tailored to us – properly bespoke, mind you, not some off-the-peg number that approximately fits all 40 inch chests – then there is a significant chance we will respond.

Mobile offers an opportunity for personalization that other media cannot match: even standard campaigns generate response rates typically ten times higher than those on the fixed Internet. And as brands shift from seeking reach to seeking engagement, to deliver a quantifiable bang for their buck, then mobile increasingly fits the bill. In short, by delivering a single, highly targeted ad to willing consumers once a day, Telefonica could be on to a winner.

Cor chase my Aunt Fanny round a mulberry bush, thought Ambrose.