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posted by martyb on Sunday September 20 2020, @10:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the future-plan:-why-not-both? dept.

Exclusive: AT&T considers cellphone plans subsidized by ads:

(Reuters) - AT&T Inc T.N is considering offering wireless phone plans partially subsidized by advertising as soon as a year from now, Chief Executive John Stankey said in an interview on Tuesday.

[...] The consideration, which has not been previously disclosed, underscores AT&T's commitment to the advertising business as the U.S. phone carrier reviews its portfolio to identify assets to sell in order to reduce its debt load. AT&T is considering selling its advertising-technology unit Xandr, sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters.

"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," Stankey said.

Various companies including Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O, Virgin Mobile USA and Sprint's Boost Mobile have tested advertising supported phone services since the early 2000s but they have not caught on. AT&T is hoping that better advertising targeting could revive the idea.

The planned launch of an ad-supported version of AT&T's video-streaming service HBO Max next year will serve as a "foundational element" that will provide new advertising inventory, and would be key to new phone plans supported by ads, Stankey said without offering details.

[...] AT&T engineers are creating "unified customer identifiers," Stankey said. Such technology would allow marketers to identify users across multiple devices and serve them relevant advertising.


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by looorg on Sunday September 20 2020, @10:30PM (9 children)

    by looorg (578) on Sunday September 20 2020, @10:30PM (#1054092)

    So how will this work? Are they playing the ads before they connect your call or after or will they inject ads into the stream -- we interrupt your call now to bring you a message from out sponsors ... ?

    Somehow I suspect this will be annoying as hell, and not worth a $5 discount on the phone bill. Just look at how this went with TV. They started out by having ads before and after shows, then eventually they started to chop the shows into smaller and smaller segments until shows just became a delivery mechanism for the ads. Most "half-hour-shows" are now just 20ish minutes, the "hour" long shows are just 40-45 minutes. The rest was/is ads and promotions for other shows.

    I don't think that will work for phone calls.

    If they play some ads before the call is connected then people will just dial the number, put the phone away for 20-30 seconds and then pick it up after. I doubt people will actually listen to the message.

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  • (Score: 3, TouchĂ©) by c0lo on Sunday September 20 2020, @11:11PM

    by c0lo (156) on Sunday September 20 2020, @11:11PM (#1054126) Journal

    until shows just became a delivery mechanism for the ads

    You mean: "until the show occasionally interrupts the stream of ads".

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 2) by Zinnia Zirconium on Sunday September 20 2020, @11:12PM (1 child)

    by Zinnia Zirconium (11163) on Sunday September 20 2020, @11:12PM (#1054129) Homepage Journal

    Will it be done again like it was done before?

    Faxes, Email, Voicemail... Free [cbsnews.com]

    General Magic has rolled out a service it calls myTalk. You call a toll free number, punch in your code and… (sound) You can even record a reply that will be sent back as a voice file. General Magic President Steve Markman says all users have to do is put up with what amount to short commercials.

    "So, literally when you dial in, every 45 seconds or so, you may hear an audio ad and after the audio ad you can process as many emails as you can until the next audio ad is displayed for you."

    More Net Freebies.... myTalk.com [cbsnews.com]

    What's the catch? What else? Short targeted commercials. In addition to voicemail and email, you can also use the MyTalk service to make short phone calls...anywhere in the country for free.

    1999 was the time of The Matrix. There were payphones and landlines back then.

    • (Score: 2) by looorg on Sunday September 20 2020, @11:57PM

      by looorg (578) on Sunday September 20 2020, @11:57PM (#1054150)

      I guess the main thing that has happened then in the last 20ish years is that now AT&T, or whomever decides to run this service, will probably have an AI analyze the conversation/call and tailor the ads to the conversation.

      Bootycall detected -- playing ads for condoms, cheap hotel rooms that rent by the hour, pregnancy and std-tests ...

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Runaway1956 on Monday September 21 2020, @12:53AM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 21 2020, @12:53AM (#1054163) Homepage Journal

    I seem to vaguely recall that commercials were every half hour, when I was very small. That is, Mickey Mouse and Romper Room and Captain Kangaroo would run approximately 30 minutes without interruption. At the half hour, there would be from 3 to 5 commercials, which no one cared about, because we were running to the bathroom, or fetching drinks.

    Then, commercials went to every quarter hour. If memory serves me correctly, you still had 3 to 5 commercials on the half hour, but only 1 or 2 shorter commercials at the quarter hour.

    By the time I reached junior high school, commercial time had grown longer, but still sort of sticking to the quarter hour schedule. There was no longer any difference between the 1/2 hour and 1/4 hour commercials.

    So, not later than 1971, commercials had become intrusive and onerous. By that time, a one hour show was serving up less than 45 minutes of "entertainment". Of course, by this time, I had already decided that most of the entertainment really wasn't entertaining. I much preferred to get outside, or curl up with a good book.

    --
    There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
  • (Score: 2) by toddestan on Monday September 21 2020, @02:57AM

    by toddestan (4982) on Monday September 21 2020, @02:57AM (#1054201)

    If I had to guess, the ads won't really affect the actual phone part, but instead will show up when you try to do smartphone-type things with the phone. Naturally, this also means you'll have to use their phone which be locked down like it's 2005. Depending on how they implement it, this may not be a bad deal for people who only use their phone as phone, but for those people who spend half the day staring at their phone they're going to see a lot of ads. Well, more ads than they already see.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21 2020, @03:17AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21 2020, @03:17AM (#1054211)

    AT&T engineers are creating "unified customer identifiers," Stankey said. Such technology would allow marketers to identify users across multiple devices and serve them relevant advertising.

    Time to break them up again.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21 2020, @05:01AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21 2020, @05:01AM (#1054243)

      Because Stanky his plans are.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21 2020, @06:55PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21 2020, @06:55PM (#1054575)

    probably just more spying and selling that data. now your family members will sell you out even more. makes everyone complicit. none to blame if everyone's doing it.

  • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Wednesday September 23 2020, @02:57AM

    by darkfeline (1030) on Wednesday September 23 2020, @02:57AM (#1055211) Homepage

    It'll be a godsend for cheaters. "Honey, that's just an ad from the phone company."

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