Report Outlines Direct Carrier Billing Opportunity

Revenues from mobile content, monetised through direct carrier billing, are expected to rise from $2bn (£1.3bn) last year to more than $13bn by 2017, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

The report notes that operator storefronts and portals now account for just 6 per cent of content downloads worldwide, with Google Play and Apples App Store accounting for almost 70 per cent between them. Indeed, the report notes that the increasing popularity of OTT (Over The Top) stores has led to many operators closing their own storefronts.

However, the report, Mobile Content Business Models: OTT & Operator Strategy & Forecasts 2013-2017, finds that, by offering carrier billing to third-party storefronts, operators could more than offset the continued decline in portal revenues. According to the report, storefronts which have already integrated carrier billing solutions have seen a 5-6x increase in conversion rates, compared with credit card billing, together with an uplift in average transaction values.

Furthermore, the report says, the implementation of carrier billing allows storefronts and developers to monetise unbanked and underbanked regions and demographics for the first time. The report cautions, however, that carrier billing for higher value content will prove less effective among prepaid users, given the relatively low top-up levels in most markets.

“While many operators have now abandoned the own-brand storefront approach, by leveraging their billing relationship with the end user they can retain a foothold in the content play,” said report author, Dr. Windsor Holden. “Simply by offering consumers a billing choice, monetisation rates will rise dramatically.”

The report also points out that, while Google has surpassed Apple in terms of app downloads on an ongoing basis, monetisation levels of Android apps are markedly lower. Although in-app billing and freemium have become the prevalent business models, there is still a role to play for PPD (Pay Per Download), Juniper believes.

The Mobile Content Challenge whitepaper is available to download from the Juniper website, together with further details of the full report and the attendant Interactive Forecast Excel, which enables clients to interrogate the assumptions behind Junipers forecasts and create alternative future outputs.