AT&T has been busy boosting the profile of its targeted advertising business since relaunching the unit as AT&T AdWorks last year and opening a media lab facility in New York in October. In between, the AdWorks network spanning mobile, online display and interactive television, has landed among the top four U.S. ad networks behind Google, Yahoo and AOL, according to comScore.
To further underscore its ad push, AT&T has released new findings from a survey of 200 brand marketers and agency executives and planners as well as data from pilot programs and test campaigns conducted in recent months. In the realm of audience targeting, for instance, the study found 60% of marketers believe data-driven targeting will replace traditional content-based advertising.
By leveraging its wealth of subscriber data across online, mobile and TV, AT&T aims to play a key role in helping advertisers reach precisely targeted audiences across the three screens. (While AdWorks can target audiences within each, specific timing on integrated ad-serving and reporting across all three channels has yet to be announced.)
Still, in mobile alone, AT&T boasts some 100 million wireless subscribers generating 10 billion impressions a month. “We're the only network with access to that anonymous aggregated monthly subscriber data,” noted Maria Mandel Dunsche, VP, marketing and media innovation at AdWorks, during a tour of the unit’s media lab Friday.
The 2000-square-foot space in midtown Manhattan features large-screen displays for showcasing the range of services AdWorks provides including data visualization, branded TV channels, IPTV telescoping, custom ad targeting, and TV commerce.
In addition to its vast mobile audience, AT&T also has 17.8 million high-speed Internet customers, including 3.6 million U-Verse TV subscribers, along with millions more accessing the company’s online search offerings such as YP.com. The AdWorks network includes third-party inventory as well.
As an example of its audience targeting capability, AT&T pointed to a recent online campaign for an airline credit card company aimed at travel intenders across air, auto and auto rental segments that resulted in a .13% click-through rate -- double the industry standard 0.5% rate.
In the mobile space, AdWorks also ran a recent campaign on behalf of Levi's Curve ID jeans featuring its opt-in Store Finder ad units that enable people to find nearby retail locations. The ads, targeted to a custom beauty, fashion and retail audience, drove more than 85,000 clicks to the Store Finder button in less than a month.
Among other mobile projects, AdWorks has been testing coupons delivered via SMS text message rather than barcodes because most retailers still don't have payments systems that can handle 2D codes. In a trial with Procter & Gamble last year, it said the text coupons delivered twice the response rate of traditional print ones. “It's a low-tech solution that works across a broad audience,” said Mandel Dunsche.
According to the AT&T study, 80% of participants said mobile advertising has the ability to target audiences more than any other platform, and will substantially increase revenue growth in 2012 and beyond. Furthermore, more than half (57%) of marketers plan to ramp up multiplatform budgets in the next 12 months, with nearly a third aiming to earmark more spending to cross-platform advertising with better ad integrations.
Toward that end, AdWorks has teamed with comScore to recruit a panel of 25,000 three-screen households, which it says would be the largest audience behavior and media measurement panel of its kind. It would combine data from AT&T wireless, U-verse and Internet usage with comScore’s Internet and mobile data.
Mandel Dunsche said the cross-platform tracking would be especially useful in helping agencies and advertisers with their media mix modeling, which typically isn't as effective in integrating mobile because of the lack of audience data. So far, AT&T and comScore are halfway toward lining up 25,000 opt-in panelists and eight advertisers to help test the research initiative.