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Alcatel-Lucent launches mobile advertising platform for operators

by Scott Bicheno on 14 April 2010, 17:56

Tags: Alcatel-Lucent

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Something for the operators

Mobile advertising has become a prominent topic since Google and Apple both announced the acquisition of mobile advertising companies within a couple of months of each other. Apple has subsequently launched iAd, but Google is still wrestling with regulators.

Not usually spoken about in the same context as these two giants is telco service provider Alcatel-Lucent, but that became inevitable once it announced a new mobile advertising platform of its own. It's called Optism, and it aims to provide an easy way for mobile operators to work directly with advertisers.

The reason this is significant is that operators are currently in the middle of a major panic-attack about becoming commoditized, or ‘dumb pipes' as the industry jargon has it. If all they're good for is providing mobile connectivity, they face tiny margins and an inability to differentiate themselves. So what operators want is to use their networks to provide other, higher-margin services.

Those operators that offer the iPhone have already been frozen out of the in-app advertising game by iAd and the Android platform will go the same way if Google's acquisition of AdMob goes through. So Alcatel-Lucent's big idea is to focus on direct marketing with its Optism proposition and use it to generate advertising opportunities for the operators, rather than the OS-makers.

"You really leverage all the capabilities of the mobile phone as a direct marketing medium," said VP of mobile advertising Thomas Labarthe at a London event, and if you think about it, the mobile phone is a highly personalised device that contains sufficient data to enable very targeted messaging.

But you can't just go around offering information about your customers to third parties without their permission, and Labarthe revealed that people only really respond to direct marketing if they've given their permission to receive it. So the model for Optism is for the operator to ask its customer if they want to receive direct marketing and, if so, what sort of topics would be of most interest.