Claravine 2

The Perfect View

David Murphy

Dr. Kathleen Brush, Chief Marketing Officer at Openwave, argues that mobile operators are in an ideal position to achieve the much-vaunted 360-degree view of their customers

The value of a 360-degree consumer view to the marketer is indisputable. Like every Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), I have dreamt about being able to craft campaigns based on specific target buyer characteristics. Instead of spending millions on expensive campaign materials that reach disinterested parties and then relentlessly pursuing unqualified buyers, the recurring marketers dream is for a marketing campaign to cost-effectively reach buyers that are pre-qualified and interested in buying your products.
Recently, I was part of a discussion suggesting that this 360-degree view was within reach. I was naturally sceptical, knowing that over the years I have investigated, marketed and used many products promising this unabridged view, but none so far had delivered more than 60 degrees.

No solutions
Its not surprising that solutions are thin on the ground. The two primary methods today that are used to build complete consumer profiles, i.e. surveys and analytics solutions that monitor Internet access, are not up to the task. Try as I might, I have found that consumers reluctantly and rarely complete, or accurately complete, surveys that impart personal data that reveal demographics, psychographics and analytics technologies that monitor an Internet users click streams are installed to collect data on the activities of unknown visitors at a specific website. But how much can you learn about a visitors behaviours by auditing what they view on one website?
Lets face it, relying on surveys to gather personal information will always be fraught with the problem that only small populations will respond truthfully. Ive always thought that the better answer was more likely found in analytics technologies that were able to see and create audit trails of reliable samples of Internet pages accessed by an individual or groups of individuals and then inferring interests or behaviours.
The problem has always been that capturing all of a persons Internet activities would require being positioned to see and record all Internet requests. Until recently, this was only a possibility for broadband operators and ISPs. Today, mobile operators also qualify. Of course, many people access the Internet through a combination of wired and wireless, dial up and broadband, at home, on the road and at work, so the 360-degree view will remain a bit of fantasy, awaiting the realities of truly converged networks. But then again, we marketers dont really need to know every single click that target buyers make to build reliable behavioural profiles that are useful for segmentation. Any of these access vehicles should see enough URLs accessed to develop behavioural profiles that are far in excess of the 60 degrees weve grown accustomed to. It seems that the discussion I was recently part of about the availability of a near-360-degree consumer view is starting to gain ground.
No doubt the broadband operator or ISP will be able collect larger samples because this is where most Internet access takes place, giving these operators an opportunity to create  defined segments of subscribers as they pertain to internet access patterns from fixed locations.

The mobile opportunity
However, the mobile operator is able to monitor activities that are unique to mobile Internet users, including their location. This would give them a near-360-degree view specifically of the mobile Internet user. So they would have the ability to create more clearly defined segments specific to the Internet activities of mobile Internet users. This information can advise and inform mobile operators on the types of applications and services that will be appealing to different segments of mobile Internet users, which is extremely valuable information for the growing opportunities that are surfacing for mobile operators and others with websites offering valued services to the Internet user on the go. 
The power of this near-360-degree view to the marketer could be limitless. What if you could contact your operator of choice and say I want you to run a campaign targeting subscribers that live in Minneapolis that regularly visit winter sports websites, purchase products on high-end retail sites, and make weekend calls from ski resorts X and Y. Or I want you to run a campaign for my clothing line in July that targets subscribers that regularly visit Facebook, average one hundred SMS messages a day, and have visited these competitive e-tail sites in the past four weeks.

Potential goldmine
Think of the goldmine operators could be potentially sitting on. They have unlimited access to the information that can facilitate driving ARPU and minimizing churn. Operators could use their analytics data to keep track of subscribers visiting a competitive operators website for more than a few minutes and more than once in the past week. They can also build reports identifying how frequently subscribers are visiting websites with mobile Internet applications, how often applications are being downloaded, and which applications are most popular.
It really seems like a dream coming true for marketers, and the operators that are able to collect this data. There are a couple of challenges, however. First, operators have to deploy analytics software to collect, sort and present relevant data in a meaningful way. Second, operators need to create and implement programs to monetize this valuable information internally and externally. These two activities require staff with a strong combination of analytical and marketing skills: a small price to pay for a multi-million dollar treasure.