Sponsored data business models benefit consumers by expanding the mobile ecosystem to new partners that want to foot part of the bill for consumers to use wireless data—according to the Strategy Analytics Wireless Operator Strategies (WOS) service report, “Measuring the Success of Sponsored Data”.

There are two main types of sponsored data—offers that provide free access or zero-rated data traffic, and campaigns that reward the consumer with a free data allocation. AT&T has been enabling brands, developers and other companies to explore the potential of sponsored data, in partnership with leading US startups like Aquto, DataMi and Syntonic  that provide cloud-based solutions with rich analytics for tracking success.

Click here for the report: Measuring the Success of Sponsored Data

Key findings from the report:

  • Sponsored data use cases gaining traction today range from advertising, free access to online commerce apps, games and app stores, to support for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) by enterprises, education and healthcare.
  • Exciting longer term use cases for sponsored data include connectivity solutions for wearables, connected car and Internet of Things (IoT) devices – either for an amount of free data each month or for particular apps.
  • Software developer kits (SDKs) from solutions providers like DataMi and Syntonic unleash the creativity of developers to add free data directly into their apps.
  • The FCC ruling on net neutrality does not appear to block sponsored data or zero-rating, with current offers being permitted to be maintained; future plans may be subject to case-by-case scrutiny under a general “standard for future conduct” in the rules, but the practices are not banned.


Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, Director, Wireless Operator Strategies said:

  • “If the top two wireless carriers want to promote a platform that lets their customers get free data with someone else footing the bill, why would the public want the government to step in and say no? Net neutrality aims to provide neutral access, which is a benefit to all, but does not say that carriers should not provide an open platform for partners who want to offer free data rewards or toll-free data in today’s smartphone centric society.”
  • “Sponsored data with small scale campaigns would provide a cost-effective tool for smaller players to get more visibility against the large companies, particularly in online based businesses like app stores, social networking apps, etc., where discoverability beyond the top apps can prove challenging.”

Phil Kendall, Executive Director, Wireless Operator Strategies, commented: “Mobile operators should consider sponsored data not necessarily as a large revenue generator but as part of a broader platform approach to offer new, more flexible business models for engaging other companies in the mobile ecosystem in a way that contributes to improved customer reach and engagement as well as to monetizing network upgrades.”

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