O2s Opt-in Revolution

I’m at the mobileSQUARED Taking Internet Mobile roadshow in London, and prior to that, attended a roundtable discussion this morning, hosted by Airwide Solutions, the theme of which was: ‘Challenges to Incorporating Mobile into a Business Strategy’.
Much of the roundtable debate centred around mobile advertising, and within this, what the operators could do to help brands target consumers. Mike Short, Vice President, Public Affairs, explained that O2 can already profile its subscribers by age, place of residence and other factors, but I was interested to know how brands could benefit from this information. Would it result in more targeted ads when subscribers visited the O2 mobile portal, or was it available to brands in some other ways?
It was at this point that Short revealed that O2 has an opted in database of subscribers that it is beginning to talk to brands and media agencies about. James Tagg, Head of Mobile at Starcom Mediavest Group, told me he believed the database numbered around 300,000 subscribers.
This, I feel, is a fascinating development. While the database is tiny compared to Turkish operator Turkcell’s database of 7.6m (at the last count) opted-in subscribers, it is the first time I have heard of a UK operator building such a database, (with the exception of Blyk, of course).
I have emailed Shaun Gregory, who heads up O2 Media, to find out more about the database, such as how the people on it were recruited, and incentivised to join; what sort of profiling is available to brands; and how it plans to market it to brands. We’ll share all the details with you as soon as he comes back to us.

David Murphy