AT&T wants to put ads on your smartphone in exchange for $5 discount


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AT&T outside the building.
Zoom in / AT&T outside the company’s New York City office.

AT&T CEO John Stankey said the company may offer ad-supported mobile plans, giving customers $ 5 or $ 10 monthly discounts for ads on their phones. “I think there is a slice of our customer base where if there was a choice, they’d take some ads in exchange for a $ 5 or $ 10 reduction in their mobile phone bill,” said Stankey. Interview with Reuters yesterday. It appears that Stankey did not provide details on what form the ads would take.

According to Reuters, Stankey said that AT & T’s ad-supported phone plans could be offered in “a year or two”. AT&T is already doing background work in its targeted advertising system that can add value to such plans for AT&T’s ad sales business:

Stankey said that AT&T engineers create “unified identifiers for clients.” This technology will allow marketers to identify users across multiple devices and serve them relevant ads.

He said the ability to adjust ad targeting would allow AT&T to sell ads at higher rates.

Stankey also said an ad-supported version of HBO Max will play a significant role in ad-supported phone plans, but he did not provide further details, according to Reuters.

“Several companies including Amazon, Virgin Mobile USA and Sprint’s Boost Mobile have been testing ad-supported phone services since the early 2000s but they have not worked. AT&T hopes that better targeting of ads will revive the idea,” Reuters wrote.

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

The AT&T CEO may be right that some customers will accept ads in exchange for discounts, even though many of them will be low-income people who can hardly afford the phone service in the first place. AT&T offers subsidized plans for low-income people through the US government’s Lifeline Program, however AT & T’s website It says its Lifeline wireless plans are only available in 13 of the 50 US states, and only “certain regions” of those states.

AT&T has a controversial history of placing targeted ads on the Internet in exchange for discounts. In 2015, AT&T offered a $ 70 / month gigabit home internet plan, however This 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 didn’t sign up for the traffic checking program AT&T called “Internet preferences” had to pay $ 99 a month instead. With some of the bundled plans that included broadband along with TV or phone service, the additional cost for the more private plan was more than $ 60 a month.

AT&T Internet preferences program terminated completely In September 2016, but that wasn’t the end of AT&T’s plans to serve ads based on its users’ browsing records. In June 2018, for example, AT&T announced She was buying an ad company that would provide personalized ads based on the web surfing habits of internet users and afterwards Bringing together a new affiliate With current advertising companies and data analytics for AT&T.

Trump killed the base for broadband privacy

AT&T is much bigger Purchase Time Warner Inc. It provided more potentials to join AT&T Communications Services with entertainment and advertising. When proposing to acquire government officials in 2017, AT&T said “Most relevant advertising in ad-supported video services” would be one of the primary benefits of the merger. In testimony before Congress in December 2016, CEO Randall Stevenson said: “We expect to provide mobile-optimized content and services, and ad-supported services that move more costs from consumers to advertisers.”

The Obama-era Federal Communications Commission attempted to place restrictions on telecoms’ use of personal data for advertising, with A. Base Requiring internet service providers to obtain subscription consent from consumers before using or sharing web browsing data and other private information. But in early 2017, he appeared Republican-controlled Congress And the Trump administration Al Qaeda was killed Before it takes effect.

What customers really want

The amalgamation of ads and phone plans may be an inevitable result of telecom companies buying media and advertising businesses, although stacking basic communication services with more advertisements is not something that customers demand.

AT&T can really help US customers by expanding its fiber-optic home network to Americans who lack modern broadband, another topic raised in a Reuters interview. (More fiber building operations will also benefit AT & T’s mobile network, particularly in rural areas.) “AT&T believes it could double its fiber footprint if it had an economic incentive,” Reuters wrote.

Stanky too He called for more government funding for broadband In an opinion piece published in Politico last week. This continues with a history that includes Stankey Stephenson’s predecessor say In 2017, AT&T used a corporate tax credit to create 7,000 jobs for people who use fiber [the] Land.”

Since then, AT&T has done a lot Stops stretching of fibers, Reducing capital expenditures On their networks, and Tens of thousands of employees are laid off. AT&T is, too Do not share In the Rural Digital Opportunities Fund (RDOF) of the Federal Communications Commission, which is designated as an award Up to $ 16 billion in grants to ISPs who expand broadband service. But at least AT&T mobile customers might get an opportunity to save $ 5 per month in exchange for targeted ads.


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