AT&T mulling launch of cheaper, ad-supported mobile phone deals - CEO

Wednesday 16 September 2020 | 10:54 CET | News

AT&T is looking into introducing mobile phone deals partially supported by advertising, CEO John Stankey told Reuters in an interview. “I believe there’s a segment of our customer base where given a choice, they would take some load of advertising for a USD 5 or USD 10 reduction in their mobile bill,” Stankey said. Key to the plans will be launch of an ad-supported version of AT&T’s HBO Max streaming service and subsequent new advertising inventory. With this launch as a base, the new phone packages would launch after, in a year or two, Stankey said. 

The consideration comes amid AT&T’s intention to sell certain assets in order to reduce its debt load. The carrier is looking carefully at its portfolio of services in order to identify what operations can go on sale. Reports earlier this month said the company wanted to dispose of its digital ad business Xandr, as well as Crunchyroll and DirecTV. 

AT&T is betting on better advertising targeting to drive its ad-supported deals and make them a success. This type of advertising would also allow the company to sell ads for high prices, the CEO said. AT&T engineers are creating “unified customer identifiers,” Stankey continued. The technique would allow marketers to identify users across multiple devices and serve them relevant advertising. 

AT&T has invested in developing targeted advertising on its own media properties using data from its phone, TV and internet customers, but the company has been “slower in coming up the curve” on expanding its marketplace that allows advertisers to use AT&T data to target other media companies’ audiences, Stankey said. Xandr made a push in March to drive more advertising deals and improve its service. The unit updated Xandr Invest, its buying platform for advertisers, and cut an ad deal with a number of entertainment companies, including AMC Networks, Disney and WarnerMedia. 

The use of non-AT&T data might come under fire in the future from privacy rules such as the California Consumer Privacy Act. “I don’t know if we can count on it in perpetuity,” Stankey said, referring to the use of non-AT&T-owned data.

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Categories: Mobile & Wireless
Companies: AT&T / Xandr
Countries: United States
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