Big Data, Big Opportunity

Guavus Francois de RepentignyFrancois de Repentigny, vice president marketing at Guavus, says Big Data offers great potential for brands looking to reach out to consumers on their mobile devices.

The huge potential for mobile marketing is now being realised, and the sector is growing at a significant rate. A couple of weeks ago, the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB)’s Digital Adspend report, conducted by PwC, revealed that UK mobile ad spend broke the billion pound mark in 2013, hitting £1.03bn, 93 per cent up on the 2012 total of £529m. This means that it now accounts for 16 per cent of all digital advertising spend.

The industry still faces a challenge, however, as it determines how to best take advantage of these opportunities. Untargeted adverts provide little value for consumers and low returns for marketers; so it’s understandable that many marketers are proceeding with caution.

Thankfully, the wealth of insights travelling across the multiple silos of mobile networks could be the key to mobile marketing success. Analysis of this ‘Big Data’, as it has become known, can provide insights that enable marketers to deliver the right advert to the right consumer, in the right place, in the right context, and at the right time. As operators become more sophisticated at unlocking these insights, I believe they will take a central role in the advertising value chain by offering services that enable mobile marketers to create more tailored and relevant data-led campaigns; improving the value of mobile marketing to consumers and the business alike. So how can this vision become reality?

Gaining consent
The biggest barrier will be for operators to gain subscribers’ consent for their data to be shared with third-parties, as some are more willing to share their data consumption with marketers than others. Nevertheless, for those that don’t want to be targeted directly, marketers can consider less invasive approaches; anonymised and aggregated subscriber data can provide a wealth of insights that help marketers identify where they should focus their efforts.

For example, it can demonstrate which websites are most popular with their target demographics, which apps these subscribers are using, and how much time they spend social networking on their devices. This enables marketers to get a better feel for where they should be placing banner ads, which apps they should be sponsoring, and the time of day that proves most favourable for reaching potential customers on their devices. This data is already widely collected by some publishers, but operators gain a much more holistic view of their subscribers’ interactions and behaviours over time, thus creating more accurate target market profiles.

Marketers must provide something that represents real value in return as a means of encouraging consumers to allow their operators to share their data with them. As such, any advert or offer must be tailored to the individual subscriber. It is here that analysis of subscriber data is essential; giving mobile marketers insight into personal preferences and usage behaviours that will enable them to ensure their messages are relevant to that audience.

A good example of how this can work in practice is reflected by the “O2 More” strategy, which leverages operator usage data to match subscribers with third-party offers and services. O2 subscribers willingly sign-up to this service to receive offers for products and services that they know will be of interest to them. Recent research by TNS shows that 53 per cent of UK smartphone users are interested in signing up to similar services.

To put this into context (considering that eMarketer’s latest figures claim that 48.4 per cent of UK residents will be smartphone users by the end of 2013), 53 per cent of this user base equates to roughly 15m people who would be willing to accept tailored mobile marketing messages. This approach creates a win-win scenario for all involved; giving consumers something of value, whilst giving marketers access to a receptive and relevant audience. Ultimately, this will drive higher conversion rates and new streams of revenue.

Taking a look into the future, there’s another, more innovative option that mobile marketers could consider. Almost half (47 per cent) of those taking part in the TNS survey said that they would welcome the idea of commercially-funded mobile phone bills; receiving adverts direct to their phones in return for a partially or fully paid line-rental. With the ability to advertise directly to consumers via their mobile devices, rather than reaching out to them via mass market communication channels like television, marketers can create tailored ads for individual subscribers; giving them a much better chance of achieving a high conversion rate.

Operator data
The benefits of using operator data are clear, and we are already starting to see partnerships between mobile marketers and operators form within the industry. In order to achieve long-term success, however, we need two things to happen: firstly, operators need to provide transparency over how subscriber data is being used, giving them the ability to opt-in or out as they choose. Secondly, marketers need to respond to the data-gauntlet that has been placed before them and transform their content so that it provides real value for consumers on an individual level. If both these things are achieved, I believe mobile marketing is set to deliver tremendous value to consumers and drive serious revenues for the business.

Francois de Repentigny is vice president of marketing at Guavus

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