One persistent challenge continues to vex the mobile industry when it comes to increasing subscribers’ mobile data usage while they are roaming. But an emerging business concept promises a solution that may finally offer hope for turning the tide.
As many of us know, subscribers love their smart devices and the apps that go along with them. Many apps require a large amount of data to maintain the user experience that subscribers enjoy, but that leads to a particular challenge. While subscribers love to access their data-hungry apps, they are commonly price-sensitive and keenly aware of their data usage as they get close to maxing out their data plans. As a result, when many subscribers roam, they become “silent roamers” and either minimize the use of their mobile phones or completely turn them off to limit the possibility of overusage charges, or bill shock.
Fortunately, the concept of sponsored data is offering a solution to this, and it‘s quickly gaining ground as a promising compromise to reduce silent roaming. In a nutshell, the notion of sponsored data, or third-party-paid access, is a situation where a user is provided free or subsidized mobile data service by a third party that pays the bill for user access. This access can entail many different features, and this is where a sponsoring company working in partnership with a mobile operator can get creative. For example, access can be simply a time-based pass to the Internet, or to a specific app, or even to a specific website.
The number of ways that sponsored data plans can be applied is wide-ranging. Here’s a closer look at how sponsored data can be used by companies, operators and consumers:
- Sponsoring companies – For companies, sponsored data can be used to address a captive audience of sorts by covering roaming charges in return for a user’s viewing of an advertisement or a movie preview, or simply for using the sponsoring company’s service prior to traveling. Sponsored data can also be used to reinforce customer satisfaction by covering the roaming data costs associated with accessing specific sites or apps. Simply put, users on the go can enjoy constant connectivity while avoiding overusage, and without contributing to network congestion.
- Mobile operators – Mobile operators can gain the benefit of being able to tap into revenues previously lost to silent roamers, and the benefit of opening up new advertising and sponsorship options that companies can use to promote their brands, products and services. The use of sponsored data can also encourage mobile users to utilize more mobile data and even entice them to “top up” their plans.
- Consumers – For consumers, sponsored data can open a new world of value-added services, from frequently used service providers to favorite brands. An airline, for example, can use sponsored data to improve its customers’ travel experience by allowing them an easy, risk-free way of connecting to the Internet and maintaining communication so they can receive travel updates, have access to ticket-change options, and get notifications about promotions. Another example would be a financial institution that offers a day pass or specified volume of roaming data as a reward for using its credit card to pay for the travel.
As a consumer of mobile services and one who has worked in marketing for some years, I see huge potential for sponsored data. Price-sensitive mobile users can take advantage of risk-free, low-cost roaming opportunities. Companies can promote their services and maintain brand relevance while consumers travel. And, of course, mobile operators can reap the rewards of new sources of revenue.
I would love to get your thoughts on this topic. Have you received any sponsored data offers yet? If you have, was the offer of value to you? If you haven’t, what kind of offer do you think would be relevant to your mobile patterns?