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Brief Published: 26 Feb 2016

Free Data Unlocks Emerging Mobile Markets

Sponsored data incentivises interaction

In response to ad-blocking habits, brands are exploring mobile data sponsorship schemes that incentivise customers to interact with branded content by offering free data in exchange.

In October 2015, the New York Times found that more than half of the data served by the homepages of the top 50 US news sites is taken up by ads. For US consumers, daily visits to the most ad-saturated sites would translate into an average cost of $9.50 a month for ad-related data alone.

Outside of developed markets, such costs can be prohibitive. During a panel at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Susie Kim Riley, chief executive of sponsored data start-up Aquto, said about half of mobile users in emerging markets do not have mobile data plans. To reach these audiences, it is imperative that brands shoulder the cost of access for mobile marketing content and customer services.

Banking and financial services provider Bradesco demonstrated the effectiveness of data sponsorship in its home country Brazil, where 75% of mobile phone owners have prepaid plans with little to no data. When the brand started carrying the costs of customers using its mobile banking app in 2014, the amount of mobile transactions doubled (Bloomberg, 2015).

For more on the challenges of marketing on mobile, see Beyond Ad Blocking and State of Mobile: Winter 2016.