Telecoms, Advertising and Streaming:
Opportunities in a Changing World

By: Ross Flynn

In the span of just over a decade, the entertainment industry has undergone an unprecedented and profound transformation. Business models and distribution methods long established as the de facto means of delivering media are being supplanted. The advent and rise of streaming media content is quickly making linear channel consumption, such as watching cable TV or viewing movies at the cinema, a thing of the past.

While this change has affected all players in the entertainment industry, its ripple effects go well beyond. Advertising, for example, which has been an essential pillar of the entertainment industry from its inception, has been impacted significantly. But as the entire business world scrambles to capitalize on these dramatic changes, one industry finds itself in a unique position to carve out a profitable place in the evolving ecosystem: telecoms.

With a treasure trove of customer data and extensive network infrastructure already delivering top entertainment to end users worldwide, telcos are positioned to become significant players in this brave new world in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, many MNOs and telcos have been slow to grasp and take advantage of the opportunities before them, with many passively allowing entertainment content to be delivered through their networks to consumers without really engaging with it or the marketing process itself.

When you have such a vast and in-depth collection of customer data it can be hard to know where to begin, but the biggest no-brainer would be to leverage this data for advertising and marketing. The data they possess is potentially some of the highest quality in the world, even rivaling what the Amazons and the Metas have amassed. Location data, demographic data, data usage patterns – you name it, telcos have it.

Content creators rely heavily on first-party customer data to digitally advertise their streaming content, and telcos are in a perfect spot to deliver high-quality customer data for marketing purposes. This would provide marketers with an alternative to sourcing data for their digital advertising from the main tech giants, which are facing more and more anti-trust and privacy pressures as time goes on.

It is also becoming increasingly difficult to find first-party customer data in general. This is due to other changes in the advertising world, such as the “cookie apocalypse.” Major web browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari, have each taken steps to phase out or block third-party cookies, which are essentially small pieces of data that websites and advertisers place on a user's browser to track their online behavior and preferences for the purpose of developing targeted advertising.

Apple has also recently introduced its new App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework. This framework requires app developers to request user permission before tracking them for advertising and analytics purposes. Users can choose to opt in or opt out of tracking on an app-by-app basis. This change has had a substantial impact on the practice of advertisers to track users across apps, thereby hindering their ability to deliver targeted ads.

The long and short of it is that desired user data is becoming harder than ever to acquire. Marketers may be reticent to use alternative means of reaching their audience such as lookalike modeling, a technique in digital marketing and data analysis where you find and target new customers based on their shared characteristics with a ”seed audience” consisting of loyal, existing customers.

Telcos can solve this by going into market with their own audiences. They are starting to catch on to this, as four of the major European operators recently started an advertising joint venture that flew through EU regulation with relative ease. Legislators are quite happy at the moment to reduce big tech monopoly power. Telcos will therefore find a surprisingly relaxed environment to slide into the picture and use their audience data to help the streaming media giants advertise their content.

In an age where pure customer data is harder and harder to come by, this presents a major opportunity for the telco sector, not just for generating additional revenue through advertising, but for developing essentially a core business in itself. In general,


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