But according to Gary Greenbaum, CEO of Syntonic, the mobile platform services provider behind AT&T’s Freeway sponsored data service, the focus on net neutrality distracts from the bigger picture of what sponsored data can allow.
More than just catering to data hungry consumers in the U.S., Greenbaum said sponsored data presents an opportunity to “reach the unreachables,” both domestically and across the globe.
“There clearly is an audience where they can’t afford to be connected,” Greenbaum explained. “Sponsored data reduces the barrier for consumers to try new content, and it’s that kind of model we want to export around the world especially in regions where data is still very expensive.”
According to Greenbaum, sponsored data can be used to push marketing and brand recognition into populations of cost-conscious consumers who might otherwise choose not to view content that counts against their data allowance.
“There is some data and literature that (suggests) there is a higher proclivity to watch video ads if the data is sponsored,” Greenbaum said. “Mobile advertising is still in its infancy and growing and we see sponsored data as another form of that. We’re providing a new venue to reach new consumers. So we really see 2016 as really the year of sponsored data really taking off.”
Greenbaum said the service also offers carriers and advertisers the chance to differentiate their services through sponsored data-powered offerings.
Sponsored data also has a wider range of applications than may be seen at first glance, Greenbaum said, from advertising campaigns to government initiatives to give residents access to websites or other services.
Greenbaum said Syntonic is looking to make its solution global and will be announcing an expansion soon. The company is already in conversations with all the major carriers about the service, he said.