In case anyone thought they didn’t see enough ads, AT&T wants to put ads on your phone in exchange for a whopping $5 off your bill.
Ad-supported services have become one of the most popular business models, with everything from streaming entertainment to mobile apps relying on ad revenue to provide free or discounted services. The proliferation of ad-based business models have created a slew of privacy concerns, as consumers and lawmakers are finally pushing back against being continually tracked, analyzed and profiled.
It appears that AT&T wants to keep going down the privacy-threatening, ad-based rabbit hole, however, by introducing ad-supported telephone plans. The goal would be to use mobile phones to serve up ads, in exchange for a $5 or $10 price break.
“I believe there’s a segment of our customer base where given a choice, they would take some load of advertising for a $5 or $10 reduction in their mobile bill,” Chief Executive John Stankey told Reuters in an exclusive interview.
What’s more, the company plans to use “unified customer identifiers,” that would enable marketers to track users across devices.
Does anyone else see a problem with this?
Wireless carriers already have access to a vast amount of data on their customers. In fact, it’s safe to say there are few companies that have as much ability to track their users as wireless providers. Having those companies use that data for targeted marketing, even making it easier for marketers to track users across devices, is quite possibly one of the worst, most consumer-unfriendly ideas put forth by a company in recent years.
What’s most interesting is that AT&T reported revenue of $41.0 billion in its second quarter results. Its operating expenses were $37.4 billion, leaving it an operating income of $3.5 billion—in a single quarter, a quarter hit hard by a global pandemic, among other things.
Yet, in spite of making a profit of more than $1 billion per month, AT&T is not happy doing what businesses have done since the beginning of time—charge a fair price for a fair service. Instead, it wants to use its vast amount of data to turn its users into a product it can then sell to advertisers.
This writer, for one, is thrilled to not be an AT&T customer.