O2 UK reckons it can get mobile ads to deliver

UK mobile operator O2 is investing in the mobile advertising dream, seeking to position itself as an advertising partner that makes good use of all its customer data.

On Wednesday O2 UK launched O2 More, an opt in programme for subscribers that will match user data with voluntary preferences and deliver ads via mobile accordingly. The carrier maintains this will lead to highly personalised campaigns for advertisers. For example, if a customer says that they are interested in sports and O2 knows they roamed in Switzerland over the winter, a deal on a skiing holiday could be offered to that customer through O2 More.

O2’s subscribers signing up to More will receive no more than one ad per day. Unlike past attempts at mobile advertising, like Blyk, the carrier is offering no incentive except for the ad content itself. At launch, offers will include discounts from high street retailers and restaurants, special holiday offers and trials of new services or information about forthcoming launches.

Over 50 brands have already signed up to the More scheme, including Adidas, Cadbury, Interflora and Blockbuster, O2 said.

Despite some impressive response rates – O2 claims it got a 52 per cent response rate for a Blockbuster campaign on Top up Surprises, while Blyk, the MVNO which repositioned as a managed services provider, claimed typical rates of 25 per cent – mobile advertising has failed to get off the ground. The problem, it seems, is that it lacks the kind of reach that advertisers are used to buying through more established media. Despite lots of talk about how well equipped telcos are to deliver more personalised advertising, no service provider has yet got advertising down to a fine art, as brands seem more interested in reach.

Still, Shaun Gregory, managing director of O2 Media, the unit which will operate More, reckons all this will change. “Mobile advertising has been slow to deliver on its promise. Much of that has been down to a lack of understanding, limited opportunities and no real accountability or measurement. At O2 we understand the value of personalisation and putting the customer at the heart of everything we do,” he said. “Because customers opt in we can deliver truly relevant content that provides an experience and a richer opportunity for marketers.”

Just as Orange, which incidentally was Blyk’s first partner, did a couple of years ago, O2 Media is also opening of a central London office dedicated to mobile advertising, complete with a “rapidly expanding team,” in order to show its dedication.

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  1. Avatar Tim McQuillin 02/12/2009 @ 11:58 pm

    This a smart move, but it’s not like flipping a switch. Mobile operators in general are conservative animals with complicated decision-making processes who are not the most creative bunch when it comes to advertising and marketing. Organizational transformation will need to occur in order to be successful, but the rewards will be worth it.

  2. Avatar Dean Morrison 03/12/2009 @ 2:52 pm

    There will always be a place in advertising for coupon-based campaigns, which is essentially what this is. The only difference is that you can get a lot more clever with this strategy on mobile and I am sure we will see O2 deliver on this. The big question is this; what is O2 planning to do in mobile advertising in general considering that coupon-based advertising will only secure a small percentage of advertising revenue.

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