T-Mobile enters ad-tech biz as rivals pull out

T-Mobile's new Marketing Solutions division – headed by Mike Peralta, a longtime advertising technology executive – promises to match advertisers with the company's mobile customers.

"Right now, advertising is a little bit broken, we've created a new marketing solutions group to help fix that," Peralta told Adweek. Peralta joins T-Mobile from Future, where he served as global revenue officer. Prior to that he held senior roles at advertising-technology companies that include AOL, Criteo and MediaMath.

T-Mobile's moves come just a few months after the operator said it would begin automatically enrolling its customers into a program that will allow T-Mobile to sell the details of its customers' web and app activities to advertisers.

T-Mobile's entry into the space also comes as AT&T and Verizon have been withdrawing from it. AT&T is ditching its WarnerMedia content business, though its Xandr advertising division is not a part of that transaction. Nonetheless, Xandr is rumored to be for sale. Verizon, meantime, is selling its Yahoo and AOL media division to Apollo Global Management.

"Everyone's watched what's going on with AT&T and Verizon," Peralta told AdExchanger.

"We're not trying to be everything to everyone," he added. "We know what we're good at, and we're focused on just that."

Peralta explained that T-Mobile's advertising business is mainly focused on helping advertisers sell messages targeted to mobile customers based on their activities and the apps on their phones. For example, one unnamed grocery brand used T-Mobile's Marketing Solutions data to identify people who visit stores like Whole Foods and Costco, and then matched that data to people with the Pinterest app who also fit T-Mobile's demographic profile for "millennial moms." The brand then created an ad campaign to specifically target those users.

Importantly, T-Mobile's marketing service only supports ads in apps on Android phones. It doesn't work on phones' web browsers or on Apple phones. That's partly due to an industry-wide shift from browser tracking cookies as well as Apple's decision to prevent app-tracking in its latest iOS release.

Finally, Peralta said T-Mobile is not selling its customers' location data. "We just don't feel that we need that today, and you know, we want to really be focused on privacy as well," he told AdWeek.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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