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Exclusive: AT&T is considering plans for ad-subsidized mobile phones



(Reuters) – AT&T Inc is considering offering plans for cordless phones, partially subsidized by advertising, immediately after one year, CEO John Stankey said in an interview Tuesday.

The consideration, which was not disclosed earlier, underscores AT&T’s commitment to the advertising business as the US phone operator reviews its portfolio to identify assets to sell to reduce its debt burden. AT&T is considering selling its Xandr advertising technology unit, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

“I believe there is a segment of our customer base where they would like to advertise a $ 5 or $ 1

0 discount on their mobile account,” Stankey said.

Various companies, including Amazon.com Inc, Virgin Mobile USA and Sprint’s Boost Mobile, have tested advertising telephone services supported since the early 2000s, but have failed. AT&T hopes that better advertising targeting can revive the idea.

The planned launch of an ad-supported version of AT&T HBO Max’s video streaming service next year will serve as a “key element” that will provide new inventory and will be key to new ad-supported phone plans, Stanky said. without offering details.

Stanki said ad-supported telephone plans could be introduced in “a year or two.”

AT&T engineers create “unified customer identifiers,” Stankey said. Such technology would allow retailers to identify users of multiple devices and serve them with appropriate advertising.

The ability to fine-tune ad targeting will allow AT&T to sell ads at higher prices, he said.

AT&T is investing in developing targeted advertising of its own media properties, using data from its customers on telephones, TVs and the Internet, but the company is “slower in raising the curve” in expanding its market, allowing advertisers to use AT&T data to target other audiences of media companies, Stankey said.

In March, AT & T’s Xandr partnered with Walt Disney Co. and AMC Networks to allow advertisers to buy TV commercials online

AT & T’s advertising market, which includes non-AT&T data, may face privacy challenges as consumers express growing concerns about tracking their media use on various platforms and laws such as the Consumer Privacy Act have been enacted. California.

“I don’t know if we can count on that forever,” Stankey said, referring to the use of non-AT&T data.

Stankey, who wrote an article for Politico last week, said the U.S. government should provide subsidies to encourage companies to build fiber-optic broadband networks in underserved areas, Reuters said in an interview that AT&T believes it could to double its footprint if there is an economic incentive.

Fiber or fiber optics are thin cables, often installed underground, that allow companies to deliver Internet services to homes. AT&T uses fiber to deliver Internet to homes and businesses, as well as to power its 5G network.

AT&T fibers currently pass through 18 million homes in the United States. The company could increase that number by 3 to 5 million homes a year, he added.

Report by Sheila Dang in Dallas; Helen Coster, Crystal Hu and Kenneth Lee in New York; Edited by Cynthia Osterman


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