Rio 2016: Can operators handle the heat?
The Rio Olympics, like most major sporting events, will draw crowds from the four corners of the world. The 2016 event has already been branded the ‘Social Media Olympics’ – today there are almost 1.8bn global social media users, which represents about 25% of the world’s population. As world and Olympic records are broken, says Jonathan Plant of Openet, spectators will want nothing more than to record and share the events in real-time across their social networks.
Bill shock fears
Unfortunately, the fear of bill shock remains very real and present, meaning that most who travel to Brazil this August will choose to turn off their data before they’ve even arrived. This will mean a loss of instantaneous data and directly, or indirectly, a diminished customer experience.
Sponsored data is largely anticipated as the solution for all, benefiting consumers, brands and operators. The concept will see mobile customers enjoy “free data”, charged by the operator to the sponsoring company, in exchange for receiving targeted and contextualised advertising.
Content providers will be able to make their offers more appealing to consumers and, as a result, drive more traffic and increase ad revenue. Operators will also gain from this; effectively acting as the “middle men”, sponsored data will allow network providers to add additional offers for their customers and become a strategic part of the content value chain.
But in order for sponsored data to benefit all three parties at the Rio Olympics, operators must ensure their communication infrastructure is up to the task. According to Ovum, Brazil was the largest contributor to LTE growth in the region, with more than seven million net additions in the last quarter of 2015. While these investments are clear signs of Brazil’s step towards heightened connectivity, the innovative potential of these investments will not be realised if operators do not adopt agile BSS solutions.
Integrated policy and charging (PCC) systems are required to enforce the terms of sponsored data models, because they allow operators to apply specific policy rules and real-time rating. Tight integration of policy and charging is required to allocate and apply policy and charging rules dynamically, and to ensure that sponsored data usage is whitelisted from other data usage – to avoid data caps or bill shock for consumers. By gaining granular insight and visibility down to the subscriber level, operators can monitor content being used and apply specific business rules.
Additionally, time to market is important. The last thing any operator or sponsor/content provider needs is for a marketing launch to be held up while the billing vendor takes six months to re-write code to enable a new sponsorship package to be developed. If operators hope to implement new offers quickly, they must be supported by systems that enable new prices and offers to be quickly and securely developed and maintained.
In it together
The success of sponsored data is also reliant on the participation of brands. For this to happen, content providers must be guaranteed a return on their investment. If operators are to drive engagement in sponsored data partnerships by promising increased ad revenue and a drive in web traffic, they must be sure that communications infrastructure is reliable enough to sustain the incoming traffic expected at the Olympics.
By making sure that the right BSS solutions are in place, and guaranteeing reliable LTE infrastructure, operators will have an easier task convincing brands to engage in sponsored data partnerships in the coming years. With sponsored data providing the perfect platform for user engagement through contextualised and targeted advertising, and an expected 500,000 people descending on Rio in August, it’s likely that brands will increasingly see this as the most effective channel for marketing.
Sponsored data has gained considerable momentum over the first quarter, and rightly so. It presents the perfect opportunity for operators and brands to monetise global events while enhancing the customer experience. If operators are looking to Rio for sponsored data opportunities, they need to act quickly to demonstrate that their networks can handle the heat. To guarantee its success, operators must ensure that outdated billing and charging systems are replaced by two-sided BSS solutions benefiting both the content providers and the operator.
The author of this blog is Jonathan Plant, marketing manager at Openet.
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