Sponsored Data Charging - Disrupting the Mobile Industry

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Sponsored Data Charging - Disrupting the Mobile Industry

By: Barbara Sampson, Senior Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent

New Service Provider Revenue Monetization Model

Just as LTE has evolved to be the predominant technology for mobile broadband providers -- generating an average data volume per user of 168% higher than 3G data – so must the traditional charging model change. One charging model growing in popularity is Sponsored Data Charging. 

Sponsored Data Charging enables mobile subscribers to view, stream, and benefit from sponsored content and use applications over the mobile service provider’s network without that data usage coming out of their monthly plan. The data charges that a subscriber would pay for the sponsored content are paid instead by the third-party provider owning the content. Even more importantly, a subscriber can test out certain sponsored applications and features for a short time to determine whether to subscribe, without impacting monthly data-plan limits.

Not only is Sponsored Data Charging built for massive broadband usage from all kinds of connected devices, it also can support emerging technologies such as VoLTE and NFV. Key target industries include advertising, retail, media, entertainment, healthcare, and financial services.

How Does Sponsored Data Charging Work?

Sponsored Data Charging requires flexible charging and rating models. One example is zero rating, where an application provider or third party pays for subscriber data consumed by the specific application or service, as well as data rewards, where the users are rewarded with additional buckets of data to extend their data plans.

For example, a mobile app developer could pay the mobile service provider a negotiated rate so the subscriber can use the app without worrying about data usage and overages. Zero rating data supported by advertising is a variation of this type of data plan. Another example is where a marketer provides a customer with a data reward as a bonus for making a mobile purchase, trying out their service, or for lead generation. Depending on the use cases with third parties, the real-time charging system needs to ensure accurate charges to the sponsor rather than to subscriber accounts.

Sponsored Data Monetization Partner Ecosystem

Sponsored data programs are proving to be an effective method of both monetizing mobile data consumption and attracting new subscribers on a global basis. To take advantage of this growing opportunity, Alcatel-Lucent is collaborating with Aquto. The collaboration takes advantage of Aquto’s deep understanding of the digital marketing ecosystem and combines with Alcatel-Lucent’s policy and charging expertise and experience.

Using the Alcatel-Lucent SurePay® platform, Aquto enables mobile service providers to rapidly roll out data sponsorship programs including data rewards and zero-rating of mobile apps/content. As shown in the diagram below, the service integrates with the existing IT infrastructure and with minimal investment, enables the service provider to monetize almost immediately by leveraging a global network of sponsors, which includes app publishers/developers, advertisers, and marketers. 


Diagram: Sponsored Data Monetization Platform [Source: Aquto]

Aquto offers two programs for mobile service providers: Cloud-based sponsorships and the service provider user-engagement application.

Cloud-based sponsorships: To enable zero rating of mobile content, or offer data rewards to users, app publishers/developers, advertisers and marketers can leverage easy to integrate capabilities to keep users connected with their content and services.

Service Provider user-engagement application: In an increasingly competitive market, service providers have to devise new ways to keep users engaged. It is a destination to discover apps and services, offers from advertisers through which users can experience the benefits of zero rating and data rewards. The app draws users in and provides operators with the opportunity to engage users in a positive setting.

This sponsored data concept is not just about free Internet. It is quickly presenting itself as a vast opportunity for service providers to tap into a growing mobile ecosystem that is made up of app marketers and advertisers. Users are now spending more time with their mobile devices than in front of the TV or desktop. The timing is right for service providers to engage.

The combined expertise of Aquto and Alcatel-Lucent – including experience working with mobile operators -- has let leading mobile service providers rapidly roll out this new service that allows new revenue and monetization streams.

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