Advertisers need help. Between social media and the web at large, the average consumer is being hit with more promotional messages than ever. And that’s before you even consider TV, direct mail, or the many other platforms that exist for businesses to push their products. It’s no surprise we’re all suffering from ad fatigue as a result, and there’s a lot of data to show how adverts are blurring into the background for most, leaving many attempts to reach consumers with new offers or promotions unnoticed. But carriers are in a position to change that, and it’s all down to network data.Read More
Granted, the idea of using information pulled from the network to drive advertising-based revenues is nothing new. After all, the use of big data analytics for advertising purposes has been a topic of conversation in the industry for years. In 2017, however, it’s become a tangible reality, particularly as carriers move to incorporate more WiFi into their service offerings and look to combine proximity-based advertising with QoE considerations.
The value of WiFi
WiFi access points, beacons, and other network-driven sensors that communicate with mobile devices and monitor subscriber locations hold a couple of benefits. There’s an obvious and immediate bottom-line impact from being able to identify the patterns visitors move in and where their devices came from. The more interesting benefit, however, is the way this information can be used to create new advertising revenue streams for businesses and content providers.
WiFi has been the staple of high footfall areas such as airports or shopping malls for a long time, where retailers and advertisers arguably want to target users the most. However, for the most part, these networks are controlled by third-parties and offer spotty performance. Carriers that look to deploy managed WiFi in these areas instead, and look to deliver the same QoE considerations as they do for the mobile network, are in a position to stand head-and-shoulders above the rest.
QoE considerations for success
The value behind using WiFi to drive data insights is that these networks are highly sensitive to traffic and application behaviour while also providing granular information about a user’s location. Cells are usually small, and indoor networks offer the opportunity to understand what people are doing, where they’re doing it, and what their next target is. The potential it holds for advertising is evident. If an advertiser knows a user is about to walk past a certain store based on the real-time location of their handset, they can push a discount code to their device and encourage them inside. If they’re stuck in a long line for security at the airport, it’s a chance to up-sell a premier traveller package at an additional cost.
The challenge, however, is getting users onto that WiFi access point and keeping them there long enough to make targeted advertising a success and ensure retailers or content providers have enough actionable data aggregated over time to make planning decisions in the future.
All of this depends on having reliable and consistent communication between the user’s device and the network. But, WiFi access points are easily congested at times where many users are connected at once. Network QoE management is therefore the piece of the puzzle that’s been missing until now. It’s the secret sauce that carriers are in control of and advertisers stand to benefit from.
Network data potential
To make this a reality, operators need to a) have the WiFi network in place, and b) have the tools required for effectively managing WiFi performance, much in the same way they’d approach performance management on the cellular network. They must be able to control high bandwidth applications and services to shape their traffic and distribute available resources fairly among connected devices. They must also be able to integrate data from a variety of access points, analyze this information in real-time, and process the flow of meta-data from each access point individually, as it’s this information that stands to benefit advertisers most.
An approach like this makes a wide range of network applications possible, either for more advanced data analytics or the introduction of new policy actions to ensure the subscriber’s experience at each cell is optimized. Combined with a robust big data platform, and the inherent security benefits of carrier-managed WiFi, this approach holds the key to unlock the next generation of targeted advertising. For content providers, having a robust and secure WiFi service in place where a carrier knows subscribers will have free time (i.e. an airport) offers an opportunity to upsell streaming services or other add-on applications.
By keeping subscribers connected to a WiFi cell longer and with a strong QoE, carriers will have access to a vast wealth of tangible data for advertising purposes. In many instances, this information could also be paired with data pulled from the carrier’s mobile network and subscriber activity across the board, providing much more detailed insights into the subscriber and their individual preferences than a pure WiFi access point vendor would be able to offer. It’s a win-win for both carriers and advertisers, and is set to become the future of proximity-based advertising.