Published: Fri, September 18, 2020
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AT&T Is Considering Cheaper Phone Plans With Targeted Ads

AT&T Is Considering Cheaper Phone Plans With Targeted Ads

AT&T, now the nation's third-largest carrier after getting surpassed by T-Mobile, could offer subsidized wireless phone service as soon as next year according to Reuters.

As per the statement made by John Stankey, Chief Executive of AT&T, the company will examine various segments of the customer base where they would prefer some advertising load to reduce at least $5 to $10 in their mobile bills.

This previously undisclosed consideration confirms AT & T's commitment to advertising business as the U.S. telephone company reviews its portfolio to determine which assets to sell in order to reduce the debt burden.

Stankey also indicated that an ad-supported version of the carrier'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 ad-supported phone plans could be introduced in "a year or two". AT&T hopes that better ad targeting can bring the idea back to life. This would be done through the use of "unified customer identifiers" which would allow advertisers to identify users across different devices and serve them relevant ads. Reuters said only that sources indicated AT&T is considering selling the unit.


While the company has used its phone, TV and internet customer data to target advertising in its own media, it has been slower in enabling advertisers to use its customer data in outside media channels, he said.

In March, AT&T's Xandr partnered with Walt Disney Co and AMC Networks to sign an agreement to allow advertisers to purchase TV commercials over the network.

AT&T's advertising market, incorporating data outside of AT&T, is a privacy issue as consumers have expressed concerns about tracking media usage across platforms and laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act. Stankey himself admitted that he doesn't know if the company can use that external data for ads "in perpetuity". AT&T uses fiber optics to provide internet to homes and businesses and power 5G networks.

AT&T fibers now exceed 18 million homes in the United States. He added that the company could increase that number from 3 to 5 million homes annually.

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