Satisfying the data hunger: what Mobile Network Operators can gain through sponsored data strategies

Last updated: 14 October 2019

“Simon…simon…breakfast is ready!”

You hear your wife shouting at you from downstairs as you do your tie up in the mirror, so you lightly jog down the stairs to join your family for breakfast around the kitchen table.

“Urgh mum, I wanted pancakes like Dad makes…not granola and fruit.” whinges your sixteen year old daughter, while your twelve year old son happily spoons his breakfast into his mouth.

“Tough” says your wife firmly, “now eat up or you’ll be late for school.”.

All are fully glued to their mobile phones throughout the exchange, which reminds you that the kids went over their data limits on the family mobile plan again last month. Their hunger for data is insatiable and significantly greater than their hunger for your amazing blueberry pancakes.

You swallow a bite of granola and think that this is probably a very similar problem for mobile users all around the country.

As you walk to the car you consider that data is the new universal currency. People want to be able to access anything and everything online, on the move at all times. And that unfortunately for a lot of them, their data plans can’t keep up.

Approximately a quarter of AT&T’s customers and a fifth of Verizon’s had to pay for exceeding data in their plans in the first half of last year. And a third of people say they’d change the mobile operator to get more or limited data on their plan.

So what can you, as the CEO of a mobile network operator, do to meet their needs, stop them leaving and make us more money?

As do up your seat-belt and turn on the engine you decide that your company should offer people free access to data, a specific site or app in return for them viewing a piece of advertising, filling out a form or purchasing a product. Or what is known in the business as sponsored data mobile marketing.

You were only reading about it with a cup of a tea and a chocolate biscuit yesterday afternoon in the Mobile Marketing Association’s Sponsored Data & Data Rewards playbook.

It outlined that sponsored data strategies could be used to:

  • Increase mobile commerce sales – providing data to consumers if they make a purchase. This can increase conversion by 15%.
  • Encourage download of apps – rewarding users with data when they download certain apps or making it available for free, so that they don’t have to use their data to do so.
  • Increase app usage – making it available even to users who have no data, offering free navigation.
  • Increase app engagement – rewarding users with extra data when they reach a predetermined phase.
  • Build brand recall – allowing consumers to watch a video even when they don’t have data, and providing additional data to those without it so they can watch. It’s been showed to increase brand recall by 300%.
  • Boost sales in physical points of sale – rewarding customers with a voucher if they make a purchase in-store.

And it really struck a chord, particularly as the board keep pestering you for new monetization strategies.

Once you’re on the motorway to the office, you crank up the volume of your favorite Coldplay album and the ideas really start flowing…

You decide that the company is going to develop its own sponsored data initiatives to encourage brand awareness and loyalty. One that won’t annoy your customer base – and instead offers great incentives for both them, and your new brand partners.

It is vital to create a value exchange that is considered beneficial to customers. One way is to offer greater data bundles in return for processing personal data. Another would be to develop a data rewards scheme, where you offer customer free data credits in exchange for accepting offers from partner companies.

Similarly you realize that you could get content providers to sponsor consumer mobile navigation with postpaid internet plans.

And of course, your organization can collect, analyze and monetize all of the user habits to generate further revenues, per your chat with the board about monetization last week. Naturally, you’ll design an opt-in from all customers to ensure they know what you plan to do with their data.

As soon as you get to the office, you ask your secretary to get another board meeting in the diary asap…

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