How innovative telcos are redefining digital advertising

29th September  |  
6 minutes

Telco-grade data has long been sought after by multiple sectors such as transport and infrastructure, retail and property and of course media agencies and owners. Whilst within most sectors, the focus is on historical analytics for future planning, within media, it has been on accessing deterministic data for an ad-tech partner to apply to real-time media buys. While many carriers have been great at monetising historic data, only a few have made headway in extracting value from real-time subscriber data. 

However, as I pointed out in a previous post, a telcos’ role in media is about to change. And soon. The loss of access to in-market IDs in the form of cookies, device IDs and app-based IDs is catapulting telcos into playing a central role in the martech industry. What the market needs is a new type of ID that is entirely secure, privacy-first and gives customers better control. Telcos are in a unique position to provide this single-source ID verification for online users.

Telco positioning in media: a paradigm shift

Some may say that telcos are not built to play an active role in the media. From Orange Advertising Network, Weve and the more recent speculation (and since denied) regarding AT&T and Xandr, there is a feeling of ‘been there, done that’.

However, for me, the question has always been around approach. Some telcos took a simple partner route, becoming an additional asset to a media planning operation, but found it left them on the outside, lacking control. Others bought parts of the existing ecosystem and looked to increase value with forced cross-pollination of two very different businesses. 

Others are taking a different approach altogether. French mobile operators SFR and Orange have joined the ambitious Gravity Alliance as data partners. The alliance brings together data from a wide variety of providers to deliver tailored audience segments to advertisers and provide an alternative to Google and Facebook. 

Buying into the existing ecosystem examples include the Altice’ purchase of TeadsVerizon’s acquisition of Yahoo and AOLTelenor’s acquisition of Tapad a cross-device advertising software provider. And of course, there is the Singtel (or more precisely their media initiative Singtel Media) purchase of Amobee and Turn. All with differing degrees of the telco’s subscriber data being entered into the propositions.

Whilst neither really puts the telco as central to the martech landscape, offering verified ID does. It’s an evolution of their existing assets rather than an unrelated acquisition or small-scale participation in the chain.  

The GDPR conundrum 

Telcos will have looked at ID verification in martech in the past, no doubt as a natural extension of their role in authentication in fintech. 

The martech ID changes have made a more compelling business case than ever before, but at the same time have created an additional obstacle which requires the right navigation.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). At a stroke, the regulation placed a significant obstacle between the flow of consumer data from telco to advertiser. Telco’s looking at the opportunities in martech may be put off by the stringent requirements GDPR places on them to protect the privacy of their users and their data. 

Novatiq is responding to this challenge with the industry’s first truly privacy-first advertising ID. Developed by telco experts who understand the needs of telecoms companies, we offer an integrated in-network approach that translates profile attributes into audience segments. 

Without data leaving the telco network, these segments are applied to our Dynamic ‘Snowflake’ ID, which is guided across the ad ecosystem securely and exchanged for audience segments at the point of use. As it is only the snowflake ID that leaves the telco network, all customer data remains private and GDPR compliant. 

Post-GDPR innovators 

Our approach is tried and tested and already being used to open new opportunities for innovative telcos around the world. Turkcell, for instance, wanted to use its consented subscriber data for advertising without moving data around the ad ecosystem. As Novatiq’s proposition avoids this happening (the Dynamic ‘Snowflake’ ID evaporates after it has fulfilled its purpose so that the data it relates to cannot be reused), the telco has been able to monetise its real-time subscriber data effectively and with a high degree of granularity. 

Own brand marketing and external opportunities 

The question remains how telcos can leverage the opportunities on offer in the martech space? For me, the first thing is to focus on their own advertising and marketing propositions. 

Most telcos still communicate offers to customers through SMS; something they tend to do often and with varying degrees of success. However, subscribers can regard this as intrusive, and more importantly, it misses the high engagement points across the open web.

Telcos who leverage their own CRM data to build audience segments can reach their audiences safely and more precisely through the use of a telco’s own pseudonymised in-network ID across the open web. This approach prevents a telco’s own programmatic media buys from suffering needlessly from a lack of in-market ID’s.

Via Novatiq’s privacy platform, telcos can initiate their own ID to both profile and personalise to users on the open web against their own digital properties. This means they can activate precise retention and acquisition media campaigns through a positive/negative customer verification for both targeting and re-targeting purposes, overall achieving a better campaign result. A telco working with Novatiq recently saw benefits such as a 50% uplift on ROI and an 82% increase in click-through-rates by using their own ID securely. 

From an external position, enabling subscribers to consent to use their obfuscated, regulated ID in marketing is actually a service. Remember, the option is not ‘no’ advertising. The choice is advertising that it is either irrelevant or worse, using persistent ID’s that potentially expose the subscriber data and identity to bad players. As a telco, you offer your subscribers’ ID control.

Things are moving fast in the martech space. Thanks to GDPR and CCPA, the technologies and processes in place today, not least cookies and Mobile Application IDs, will not be around in their current form for much longer. Now is the time for telcos to change their approach to ad tech engagement, not through sideway participation or large-scale acquisition, but by becoming part of the controlling central infrastructure. 

When the new industry takes shape, make sure your organisation is at its centre. 


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