AT&T wants to place ads on a smartphone in exchange for a $ 5 discount


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AT&T mark on the outside of the building.
Increase / AT&T brand at the company’s office in New York.

John Stankey, CEO of AT&T, said the company could offer advertising-subsidized mobile phone plans by giving customers monthly discounts of $ 5 or $ 10 in exchange for ads on their phones. “I think there is a segment of our customer base where they would be given a choice, they would take some advertising to reduce their mobile bill by $ 5 or $ 10,” Stankey said. interview with Reuters yesterday. Stankey apparently did not provide details on what the ad format would be.

According to Reuters, Stankey said phone plans supported by AT&T ads could be delivered in “a year or two.” AT&T is already finalizing its targeted advertising system, which could add value to the following plans for AT & T’s ad sales business:

AT&T engineers are developing a “unified customer identifier,” Stankey said. Such technology would allow marketers to identify users on multiple devices and provide them with relevant advertising.

The ability to refine ad targeting would allow AT&T to sell ads at higher rates, he said.

Stankey also said the planned ad-supported version of HBO Max would play an important role in developing ad-supported phone plans, but he did not provide more information, Reuters reports.

“Various companies, including Amazon, Virgin Mobile USA and Sprint’s Boost Mobile, have been trying ad-supported phone services since the early 2000s, but they haven’t caught on. AT&T hopes better advertising targeting can revive the idea,” wrote Reuters.

AT&T used to charge between $ 29 and $ 60 for privacy

AT & T’s CEO may be right that some customers will accept ads in exchange for discounts, even though many of them would be low-income people who could barely afford phone services at first. AT&T offers subsidized plans for low-income people under the U.S. government’s Lifeline program, however AT&T website says its Lifeline wireless plans are only available in 13 of the 50 U.S. states and only in “certain areas of those states.”

AT&T has a controversial history of displaying targeted ads on websites in exchange for discounts. 2015 AT&T offered a $ 70-a-month gigabit home Internet plan, however that price was only available customers who have agreed to allow AT&T to analyze their web browsing history in order to serve targeted ads. Customers who did not opt ​​for a traffic scanning program, which AT&T called “Internet preferences,” had to pay $ 99 a month. For some bundled plans that include broadband, along with television or telephone service, the additional cost of a private plan exceeded $ 60 per month.

AT&T has completely terminated the Internet preferences program 2016 September, but AT & T did not plan to run ads based on users’ browsing stories. For example, in 2018. June AT&T announced she bought an advertising company that provides personalized ads based on the internet browsing habits of internet users and then merged a new subsidiary with existing AT&T advertising and data analytics businesses.

Trump has killed the broadband privacy rule

AT&T is much bigger Acquisition of Time Warner Inc. provided even more opportunities to join AT&T’s telecommunications services through entertainment and advertising. By awarding the acquisition to government officials in 2017. AT&T said that “better advertising in video services” would be one of the main advantages of the merger. Witnessing the 2016 December. Congress, then-CEO Randall Stephenson said: “We look forward to delivering mobile-optimized content and services, as well as ad-supported services that cost consumers more than advertisers.”

The Obama-era Federal Communications Commission tried to impose restrictions on the use of personal data in telecommunications for advertising purposes rule requiring ISPs to obtain a choice from users’ consent before using Internet browsing data and other personal information. However, in 2017 In the beginning Republican-controlled Congress and the Trump Administration killed the rule before it enters into force.

What customers really want

The merging of ad and phone plans is likely to be an inevitable result of telecom companies buying up media and advertising businesses, although customers are not asking to lay out basic telecom services and more advertising.

AT&T could certainly help U.S. customers by expanding its fiber-optic network to Americans who lack modern broadband, another topic of Reuters interviews. (More fiber would also benefit AT & T’s mobile network, especially in rural areas.) Stankey said “AT&T believes it could double its fiber footprint if it had an economic incentive,” Reuters wrote.

Stankey too demanded more government funding for broadband in an opinion article published by the Politico last week. This continues a story that includes Stankey’s predecessor, Stephenson saying 2017 that AT&T will take advantage of the corporate tax credit to create 7,000 jobs for “people who put fiber” [the] land ’.

Since then, AT&T mainly stopped the expansion of the fiber, reduced cost of capital in their networks and laid off tens of thousands of workers. AT&T is also not present The Federal Communications Commission Rural Digital Opportunities Fund (RDOF), which established award up to 16 billion USD grants to ISPs expanding broadband services. But at least AT&T mobile customers can get the opportunity to save $ 5 a month in exchange for targeted ads.


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