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AT&T Shuts Down Alerts Beta to Revamp

Sarah Thomas
3/24/2014
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AT&T is shutting down its location-based Alerts service at the end of the month and says it will launch a new and improved service later this year.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Alert service, launched in December 2012, was the carrier's attempt at location-based text-message marketing that targets users based on where they are and what they are interested in. The carrier wrote in an email to participants, "the Alerts BETA was successful and we gained valuable learnings. Based on this information, we're planning to launch a new and improved offer service later this year." (See AT&T Launches 'Meaningful' Mobile Offer Alerts.)

A successful mobile text campaign must send messages frequently enough that you remember you signed up and it's not spam, but not so frequently that it feels like spam. And, most importantly, it must be targeted -- but not so targeted it's creepy -- as well as relevant, and valuable.

I've participated in past AT&T Alerts trials and got fed up pretty quickly when I only got offers to Sports Authority or baby stores when I wasn't that close and the offer wasn't that good (not to mention the fact that I don't have a baby or any athletic ability…). That's the kind of service a customer will quickly opt out of.

I'm sure these are the kind of things that AT&T learned from its Beta, so I'll be interested to see what it comes back with later this year. Its brand participation will also be important. In the first round, it says it signed up Gap, Staples, Zales, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Duracell, Motorola, Discover, among others.

Round two of AT&T Alerts sounds like a great opportunity to put big-data analytics to work to really understand the customer they are targeting and craft relevant, compelling offers. But, of course, only if they opt in. (See MWC14: Analytics Holds the Key and Euronews: Make Big Data Less Scary, Says Kroes.)

Anyone a participant in the AT&T Alerts Beta? What are you hoping for in the new version?

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/30/2014 | 12:25:56 PM
Re: Demand?
I'm just saying from the perspective that I know I want it, now I have it. If I want it but don't know it & it magically appears, I may be happy but feel awkward about how I was targeted.

Does that make sense?

Reading that back sounds a little confusing.
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
3/28/2014 | 10:18:18 AM
Re: Demand?
I don't see how opt in makes it more useful; more transparent maybe, but useful has to do with the content. An opt in or notification service can still be compleltely irrelevant to you.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/27/2014 | 10:45:58 PM
Re: Demand?
I'd find it useful as long as they're opt-in ads or notifications.
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
3/25/2014 | 11:23:19 AM
Re: Demand?
I'm 29; bridal shower season has given way to baby shower season. I guess AT&T knew that before I even did.
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
3/25/2014 | 11:22:34 AM
Re: Demand?
Sure, it'd be much harder to have a text campaign so compelling it gets people out of their houses to make a purchase. Location is key to initiatives like this.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/24/2014 | 9:27:45 PM
Re: Demand?
I agree. The texts would be helpful especially when you're on the move. 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/24/2014 | 6:39:50 PM
Re: Demand?
As with all marketing messages, they need to provide value to the recpient or they'll be dismissed as spam. 

I'm just skipping the comment about baby showers entirely. 
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
3/24/2014 | 5:57:00 PM
Re: Demand?
I know; most clerks ask for your email first thing when you start to check out and get offended when you decline. Even giving them your zipcode unleashes all kinds of info.

I actually don't mind text deals though, at least when they're relevant to me. It's the age-old example, but if I got a coffee coupon outside a shop, I might just stop in. if it were for baby stuff probably not, unless they were SO good they knew I had a baby shower coming up...
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/24/2014 | 5:46:03 PM
Demand?
It's easy to see that retailers would love this. They're desperate to collect consumer phone numbers and email addresses. I went to the mall over the weekend for the first time in forever, and the saleswoman I dealt with was holding on to my ankles as I left the store, begging me to give her my email address. 

But consumer demand for this kind of thing is uncertain. My sense is that consumers want to restrict text messaging to friends, family, and business associates. Not Sports Authority. 
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
3/24/2014 | 5:40:30 PM
marketing pivots
Fierce Wireless, which picked up our story, notes that AT&T has revamped its marketing campaigns several times in the past. In October, it closed its ad network allowing third parties to target its customers with behavior-based ads, saying it would focus on tracking subscriber behavior over U-Verse instead. 

 
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