More sites offer sponsored data to mobile users, raising stakes in net neutrality debate
It seems that a few websites out there are experimenting with paying the data toll for their users. Its early days for sponsored data, but initial results are quite encouraging.
- Dan Check, the vice president of technology at Slate, was looking for ways to increase traffic to the online magazine’s podcasts. After a bit of brainstorming, he decided to try paying the toll. Slate told some would-be listeners that the podcast wouldn’t count against the data plans on their smartphones. It turned out that group was 61% more likely to press play.
- AT&T Inc. rolled out a plan early this year to let companies pay for data its subscribers consume, it looked like a long-odds attempt to get a cut of the valuable traffic generated by sites like YouTube and Facebook. But the idea is starting to get some traction.
- Hershey Co. , Hotels.com and eBay Inc. unit StubHub have been taking part in experiments by services that pay users’ data cost or offer bonus data when people visit their websites, sign up for free trials or watch movie trailers from their smartphones or tablets.
- Advertisers are approaching the offers with cautious optimism. Paying for data could draw in consumers, but it could also bake more cost into mobile advertising, said Jeff Malmad, who oversees mobile for North America at Mindshare, a global marketing agency.
- The efforts so far are primarily experimental. But if they catch on, they could give carriers a way out of a conundrum: The telecom industry is counting on rising data use to keep its sales growing, but consumers are keeping a close eye on their usage for fear of triggering even higher bills.
Some commentators have suggested that until operators get the big boys like Google, Netflix, Amazon and others – sponsored data will remain just an experiment (or a gimmick).
While others are down-right infuriated by what they see as an operator ploy to outflank Net Neutrality guidelines and guarantee exorbitant long term profits.
More Here… [WSJ]