AlcaLu Unveils Mobile Ad Platform
Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) has unveiled a new hosted platform that, it believes, will be the missing link in the mobile advertising value chain, and which one industry executive described as "Blyk on drugs." (See AlcaLu Launches Mobile Ad Solution and Blyk Exits UK Ad-Funded MVNO.)
The Optism platform can be used by advertisers, media agencies, and mobile operators to set up and conduct advertising campaigns across mobile networks. According to Thomas Labarthe, VP for mobile advertising at the vendor, the Optism platform has been developed to enable "permission-based marketing" on mobile networks.
This means advertisers and media agencies will be able to use SMS and MMS messaging to spread the word about products and new campaigns -- but only if a user, in response to incentives such as discounts and special offers, has opted in (Optism... oh, I geddit!).
That sounds as if there might be an element of spamming to get the ball rolling, but nothing's perfect.
The platform will be hosted by AlcaLu and offered as a "white label" service to mobile operators, which will be able to stamp their brand on the platform as they engage with advertisers and agencies. "Alcatel-Lucent’s brand will not be visible to the consumer," Labarthe assured attendees at a media and analyst briefing in London.
This model, whereby a large vendor hosts and manages a service delivery platform and mediation platform is becoming more and more common, with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) taking the same approach with its app store offer for mobile operators. And AlcaLu, with its new focus on applications enablement, is clearly looking to play ever more critical roles as the trusted partner linking operators to essential partners. (See AlcaLu Shows Off Its Apps Abs, AlcaLu CEO Ben Verwaayen, Part II, and MWC 2010: Ericsson Opens App Store.)
It also plays into one of the potentially most lucrative value-added services markets in the mobile sector, as operators, vendors, device firms, and media companies the world over figure out how to boost revenues from mobile advertising models. (See Apple: Ads Get the i Treatment, Orange Is Mad for Ads, Nexage, Unanimis Team on Mobile Ads, Opera Acquires AdMarvel, Amobee to Buy RingRing, and Quattro Confirms Apple Acquisition.)
Labarthe pointed out, though, that Alcatel-Lucent would not be treading on the toes of existing mobile advertising specialists. "We are not going to compete with AdMob Inc. by delivering banner ads within applications," he stated. (See Google Buys AdMob for $750M.)
The business model will be based on revenue-sharing agreements between the vendor and the mobile operators, although Labarthe adroitly dodged questions about the vendor's cut of any advertising spend. He said the platform would be offered to as many mobile operators as possible, and there will be no preferred partners or exclusive deals. Orange Austria and Germany's E-Plus Mobilfunk GmbH have already been announced as users.
Labarthe, who believes operators will be attracted by the lack of upfront capital investment, said AlcaLu has hired marketing and advertising specialists "who know creative ways to keep end users engaged" to help inject industry expertise into the platform's functionality.
The functionality is certainly exciting Tim Jones, sales director at mobile marketing specialist Blismobile Media, who participated in a panel session during the media event. “It’s Blyk on drugs!” enthused Jones, who was previously the entertainment and media account manager at Blyk, the former advertising-funded MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) that's now trying to sell its mobile marketing capabilities to mobile operators, just like Alcatel-Lucent.
[Ed. note: And kids? Don't do drugs.]
— Anne Morris, freelance editor, special to Light Reading