Email a colleague    

August 2013

Data Monetization: Why Selling Intelligence is a Hot New Revenue Stream for Mobile Carriers

Data Monetization: Why Selling Intelligence is a Hot New Revenue Stream for Mobile Carriers

Data monetization is a revenue dream come true for mobile carriers: a highly profitable sideshow where the carrier analyzes and sells data it already collects for other purposes.

And it’s a welcome breather in the relentless drive to boost ARPU because data monetization targets a different kind of customer: big businesses looking to advertise and exploit mobile intelligence.

The future of data monetization looks bright: as the smartphone market expands, more people will use mobile phones as their primary means to learn more about the billboard, TV ad, or print magazine ad they just saw.

Data monetization is also sweet justice: it’s a way for telcos to get in on the same game that Google, Baidu, Bing, and Yahoo have been playing so successfully on personal computers.

How big is the opportunity?  It’s too early to tell, but looking at Google’s financials gives us a hint.  Of the $44 billion in advertising revenue Google earned in 2012, a good 29% of that came through indirect partners as opposed to advertising directly on Google websites like YouTube.  So if you assume Google captures 20% of global partner advertising revenue, the entire market is worth about $60 billion today.

But the mobile phone will surely be a richer market for data monetization than the PC for three reasons:

  • A smartphone is a more personal and close-at-hand device;
  • It can track the user as she/he nears retail stores; and
  • You gain a more complete view of the user than a web search engine does.

Zettics is one of the pioneers of telecom data monetization.  Today, the firm delivers a turnkey service for several tier 1 operators, particularly in the U.S. market.  The firm’s VP of Strategic Consulting, Joe Levy, now joins us for a briefing on what data monetization is all about.

Dan Baker: To begin, Joe, please give us an overview of Zettics‘ business.

Joe Levy: Sure, Dan.  Simply put, we sell software that helps carriers monetize their data both internally and externally with third parties.  We do this by building a 360 degree view of what subscribers do when they use data services.  Carriers provide Zettics information on how their subscribers use data; what sites they browse to, what apps they use, what video/audio they stream, and use of non-traditional services like VoIP or Skype.  Carriers also feed Zettics information on device, location, and other data from the CRM system.

Zettics uses this data to drive impactful business results for the carrier, internally with marketing, customer care, and network, and externally with third parties.  All told, Zettics serves up 60 use cases that deliver positive ROI to a carrier.

If your aim is to gain a 360 degree view of a subscriber’s data behavior, you need a classification system.  What do you use?

You’re referring to our main intellectual property, a process we call Zettics Dynamic Learning.

Here’s how it works.  Carriers install our software on premise and provide us data from their internal systems that track raw URLs, IP and other requests that the mobile devices are making off the network.  Zettics maps those addresses, at high volume, to meaningful classifications using a system of data signatures.  Zettics then infers attributes for individual subscribers based on their usage.  And it’s those attributes we use to predict behaviors.

For example, if we saw a request to CarShopper.com and five other car shopping websites, we would predict that user is in the market for a new car.  In the same way, we also determine if a subscriber is a pet lover, fashionista, etc.

Why can‘t the carrier manage these classifications on their own?

Almost 20,000 new apps and countless websites are launched every month.  The availability of these new services results not just in more usage, but in new consumer behaviors, interests, and patterns of usage.  It’s a challenge mapping and categorizing those changes, but Zettics owns patented technology that automatically classifies whenever a new website, application, behavior, or pattern is detected.

Another level of categorization is by devices — whether it’s a cellphone, tablet, gaming console, or something else.  We also look at network events that could be causing a poor customer experience on that device with a particular service.  Using that data, we can help carriers identify customers who might be frustrated with their service.  And that intelligence, in turn, reduces churn and drives down care costs.

Every carrier that uses our platform gets continual updates to our data signatures as part of the on-going service we provide.  This keeps our customers on top of the latest trends and patterns as consumers use their mobile devices.

O.K., let’s get into a discussion of data monetization.  This is an extremely hot area right now with most U.S. carriers recently announcing initiatives, such as Verizon’s Precision and Sprint’s Pinsight Media+.  From your experience in the market what do you see are some of the top data monetization use cases being explored today?

Sure.  You are correct that monetization is a hot topic right now.  Monetizing data is a great way for carriers to extract more value from their fast growing data networks.  Here’s an example.

Audi creates a T.V. ad introducing its latest car model and decides to run it during the Super Bowl.  When the Audi Super Bowl ad appears, many viewers will go to Audi.com on their smartphone.  BMW might run an ad at a similar time, driving users to their website.

Well, Zettics can provide reports to the carriers on how effective Audi’s and BMW’s advertisements were.  These reports provide rich insights on subscriber behavior around the Audi and BMW brands, such as analyzing respondents across many demographic attributes, locations, device types, etc. all while adhering to the privacy policy of the carrier.

Carriers can then sell these reports to third parties including Audi, BMW, Mercedes, their Ad Agencies, and anyone else interested.  Zettics provides this as a turnkey service to the carrier.

That’s a pretty nifty service because the analytics is done for them: all the carrier has to do is reel in the customers.  Any other examples of turning around data and selling it to third parties?

Since data monetization is just taking off, new applications are emerging constantly.  Another good example is understanding what else consumers are doing online when they are not engaging with ‘your’ brand.

For example, CNN knows when you visit and interact with their service.  But when you’re not on CNN, are you playing games or reading news on another site (WSJ, USA Today, etc.)?  This information is highly valuable to CNN, their advertisers, competitors, and others.  Carriers use Zettics to sell this sort of intelligence.

I can see why carriers are getting very excited about this opportunity.  The only hurdle I see is the privacy issue.  I noticed AT&T very recently updated its global privacy policy to allow them to enter this space more aggressively.

Overall, how do you see carriers dealing with that?

Yes, the privacy aspect is critical.  We see every country and every carrier issuing privacy policies and options that are right for them.  Many will have both opt-out, and opt-in options depending on the use case for the information.  The key here is that Zettics has a complete layer we call Zettics Privacy Dial that gives a carrier control to fully comply with their privacy practice.  This includes managing opt-outs, opt-ins, and specific management of different data types.  All data is fully protected, privacy compliant, and only released according to the terms of that carrier.

Got it.  I can see why there is so much attention in this space.  Every mobile carrier in the world needs data monetization.  Thanks for your time Joe.

That’s exactly what we see as well.  Thanks Dan.

Copyright 2013 Black Swan Telecom Journal

 
Joe Levy

Joe Levy

Joe Levy is Vice President, Strategic Consulting at Zettics, and has a proven track record of creating deep, successful partnerships with mobile carriers.

Prior to his role at Zettics, Joe was Director, Carrier Accounts at Ontela, a provider of imaging services for mobile carriers.  Joe came to Ontela from Qpass (now Amdocs) where as Director of Marketing, Joe developed Qpass’s corporate positioning, messaging strategies and collateral materials to support sales to mobile carriers.  Previously, Joe was a senior marketing manager at Microsoft, and has also held various roles at Icarian and Accenture.  Joe holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a BS in Civil Engineering from Washington University (St.  Louis).   Contact Joe via

Black Swan Solution Guides & Papers

cSwans of a Feather

  • Telecom CVM: From Scattered Campaigns to Unified & Consistent Communication with Customers interview with Cretièn Brandsma — Despite the many failures Customer Value Management has faced in telecom, CVM’s future is very hopeful.  A carrier expert explains why telecoms have faltered, how customer experience programs can be revitalized, and where telecoms should invest in better tactics and technology.
  • The Key to Driving 4G Profit: Sell Value, Not Bandwidth by Miri Duenias — Are you struggling to earn a profit on your 4G investments?  Many operators are failing today on the marketing side.  But aligning 4G products with a customer’s personal preferences and desires provides the necessary sizzle to boost sales and earn a handsome ROI.
  • Batting for More Churn Reduction and Revenue Assurance Home Runs interview with Peter Mueller — What’s it like to transform an IT shop to big data and cloud?  In this interview, the CTO of a boutique revenue assurance explains how his firm made the leap.  He shows how project-oriented programs and working with carrier customers to explore RA and churn reduction “hunches” is where much of the action is.
  • Sharing Intelligence, Services, and Infrastructure across the Telecom Galaxy interview with Gary Zimmerman — The telecom industry is an industry of sharing.  In fact, the rise of mobile broadband is driving a greater reliance on real-time intelligence, services trading, and infrastructure exchange.  In this article, a leading info exchange provider explains the value of its services portfolio and points to other interoperability and sharing ideas under development.
  • Data Monetization: Why Selling Intelligence is a Hot New Revenue Stream for Mobile Carriers interview with Joe Levy — Data monetization is a revenue dream come true for mobile carriers: a highly profitable sideshow where the carrier analyzes and sells data it already collects for other purposes.  In this article you’ll learn how operators monetize their data through use cases in corporate advertising and media branding.
  • Back Office Streamlining to Enterprise Support: The Many Flavors of Wireline Analytics interview with Tom Nolting — Mobile analytics gets plenty of press coverage, but analytics is just as crucial for wireline operators.  In this article, a billing VP at a leading wireline operator discusses several diverse uses of analytics in billing, enterprise sales/retention, and network partner margin assurance.
  • Analytics Guru: Are Telecoms Ready for the Biz Intelligence Explosion? interview with John Meyers — Business intelligence is evolving from the creation of dashboards and reports to taking action based on a deep knowledge of the environmental context.  The article explores the implications of “big data” in terms of IPTV, storage requirements, hardware, event collection, and deep packet inspection.
  • Making the Strategic Leap From Billing to Merchandising interview with Humera Malik — Today billing/charging technology has progressed to the point where the usage intelligence, the charges, the user behaviors, and the analytics can all come together in near real-time.  This article discusses the organizational and marketing strategies that enable a operator to create a true “merchandising” system that can revolutionize a CSP’s business. 

Related Articles

  • Black Swan Guide: Araxxe’s Revenue Assurance Consulting, Testing, and High Definition Billing Analysis Service by Dan Baker — How Araxxe’s end-to-end revenue assurance complements switch-to-bill RA  through telescope RA (external and partner data) and microscope RA (high-definition analysis of complex services like bundling and digital services).
  • Subex’s IDcentral Monetizes Telco & Enterprise Data to Deliver Digital ID & Risk Metric Services for Financing, KYC & More interview with Shankar Roddam — A new digital intelligence service that monetizes the idle data of telecoms and enterprises while also earning a good return for the owner of the data.
  • Opportunities & Obstacles: Consultant Luke Taylor Muses on the State of the Telecom Risk Assurance Business interview with Luke Taylor — A rambling discussion on the state of the risk assurance business with Luke Taylor, independent consultant in telecom revenue/fraud assurance and solution requirements and marketing.
  • LATRO’s Tips for Launching a Successful Revenue & Fraud Assurance Program for Mobile Money Operations in Developing Countries interview with Don Reinhart — A company building mobile money RA/FM tools and  managed services gives a concise, but detailed tutorial on how the Mobile Money Ecosystem works.  Revenue assurance pros will get tips on  what to look for in analytics/assurance tools, controls, and professional services.
  • A WeDo Conference Talk: Consulting & Analytics: Improving your Business Today, Enhancing it Tomorrow interview with Carla Cardoso & Bernado Lucas & Thomas Steagall — Leading risk management consultants explain their mission and walk-through RA, subscription fraud, and collections cases.  They also explain how analytics and machine learning can supplement process optimization.
  • PrologMobile’s Simple and Brilliant Plan to Save US MNOs Billions a Year in Recovered Phones & Retained Customers interview with Seth Heine — An expert in the mobile phone reverse supply chain explains how MNOs — via a neutral third party information exchange — can recover their original phones on the used market and save huge sums in multi-year customer retention.
  • WeDo Explores the IoT Ecosystem in Search of Tomorrow’s Pivotal Fraud & Business Assurance Solutions interview with Carlos Marques — A veteran product manager scans the IoT terrain, discusses key fraud and assurance challenges, and explains the preparatory steps WeDo is taking to become a key player in this emerging market.
  • New Report: Telecom Fraud & Business Assurance Solutions, Services & Strategies by Dan Baker & Luke Taylor & Colin Yates — TRI publishes a new market research report, Telecom Fraud & Business Assurance Solutions, Services & Strategies.  Free executive summary available.
  • Subex Juggles a Wide Variety of Business Assurance and Big Data Analytics Use Cases interview with Rohit Maheshwari — A expert in business assurance solutions explains top use cases such as: IoT security, big data analytics/AI, network asset optimization, multi-player gaming assurance, onboarding mobile subs, and AI customer analytics.
  • MTN Agility: Mastering Exponential Technologies in Revenue/Fraud Assurance and Beyond interview with Danie Maritz & Tony Sani & Luke Taylor — An in-depth look at RAFM operations and innovation at the MTN Group.  Topics discussed include RA/fraud control challenges, strategies, and MTN’s journey to exploit exponential tech (AI, robotics, and ML) in its RAFM program and support of internal non-telco businesses.
  • From Byzantine Software Contracts to Simple & Flexible RA Managed Services interview with Philippe Orsini — Is the way B2B/enterprise software is sold and delivered today progressive — or is it Byzantine in the age of cloud?  An expert lays out the case for managed services in RA and billing verification.
  • Premiere Experts Set to Speak at Summer RAG Conference in London, July 7th and 8th by Dan Baker — The Risk and Assurance Group (RAG) has announced that its 2016 summer conference will expand into a two-day event and feature many premiere experts. 
  • WeDo Hosts Revenue Assurance & Fraud Management Conference in Washington DC by Dan Baker — Black Swan is pleased to announce what looks to be a first class revenue assurance and fraud management conference being put on by WeDo Technologies, on October 1st and 2nd in beautiful Washington DC.
  • Test Call Generators: An Essential Test & Debugging Tool in Mobile Billing Assurance interview with Steffen Öftring — An “active” test call generator (TCG) can see problems that a “passive” revenue assurance system is blind to.  Here’s a discussion on the test call RA  process, over-the-air calls versus core call injection, and test call networks in global roaming RA.
  • The Revenue Assurance Game: How the Rules Change in the Era of IoT & Mobile Broadband interview with Rene Felber & Gadi Solotorevsky — Revenue assurance is perhaps the hardest of telecom functions to define because the term is used in so many different senses.  This discussion on the evolving role of revenue assurance was catalyzed by a survey of experts in the profession.
  • Day in the Life of a Revenue Assurance Analyst interview with Michael Lazarou — Revenue assurance is much more than a software category.  It’s individual analysts struggling to help their larger organizations get a handle on system errors and coordination problems.  In this interview, an analyst reveals the many challenges of getting the revenue assurance job done at a small GSM operator in Europe.
  • Revenue Assurance: History and New Beginnings in RA Maturity interview with Daniela Giacomantonio & Gadi Solotorevsky — The Roman Forum was the center of commercial life in ancient Rome.  Now, two millennia later, the Forum lives on in the exchange of ideas across countless professions and  media.  In this interview, two Revenue Assurance experts discuss both the new RA Maturity initiative of the TM Forum and the value of telco/solution vendor collaboration.
  • Migrating systems or launching LTE next year?  Don‘t forget transformation assurance & optimisation by Efrat Nissimov — System transformations and network migrations are major  revenue impacting events and they should raise a big red flag.  Why?  Because data integrity issues are bound to crop up as CSPs move vital data from a legacy system to something new.  It’s time for transformation assurance.
  • How can Cable/DSL Internet Providers Meet the Usage-Based Billing Mandate? interview with Ryan Guthrie — The popularity of YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu other video outlets has turned the tables on service profitability for cable/DSL service providers.  Many are moving to usage-based billing, but that largely unprepared for the revenue assurance aspects of this move.  This interview explains the technical challenge and points to solutions in billing, speed caps, and traffic revenue monitoring.
  • CABS Revenue Assurance: How Rural LECs can Recover $284 Million in Revenue Shortfalls interview with Kelly Cannon & Darrell Merschak — Independent rural LECs in the U.S. still rely on the AMA/EMI billing formats for CABS billing, even as that format has proven to be highly inaccurate as a source of inter-carrier records.  This interview includes an analysis and discussion of revenue recovery techniques ILECs can use by leveraging SS7 probes.  Also discussed are billing strategies, traffic dumping threats, and the possible fallout from the FCC’s bill-and-keep mandate.
  • Make Business Assurance Progress Every Day: How to Set Goals, Automate, and Energize Your Team interview with Kathleen Romano — Business assurance (BA) skills have wide applicability outside the revenue assurance and fraud mangement domains.  In this article, a telecom executive explains how she’s applying her BA skills in the Payments area.  In addition to discussing the key operational challenges in Payments, the interview also provides keen insights on setting goals in business assurance, leading a team, and making critical decisions.
  • LTE Rollout: Make it a Smashing Success with Risk Assessment, Controls, and Marketing Offer Analytics by Gadi Solotorevsky — LTE brings splendid new capabilities to mobile users.  But like 2G and 3G deployments before, operators can only make money if they successfuly plan, coordinate, deploy fast, and pay attention to pricing plans and the customer experience.  This article lays out a 3-phase tactical guide on  how revenue analytics professionals can add value in LTE service risk assessment, controls, and marketing offer analytics.
  • RA Prevention: How to Manage Revenue Risks and Communicate RA’s Value to Senior Execs by Shaul Moav — The era of revenue assurance prevention and risk assessment is here.  Several of the mature operators of the world have developed their own methodologies and tools.  Using firefighting and fire prevention as a metaphor, the article details a new commercial software approach explaining the goals, method of risk evaluation, and senior executive dashboards developed for the process.
  • Precision Clockworks: How Revenue Assurance Synchronizes with the Business at Swisscom interview with Marco Pollinger — An expert revenue assurance department is one whose work dovetails well with the lines of businesses it supports.  In this interview you’ll learn how Swisscom manages its revenue assurance function for maximum effect.  The article discusses: the operator’s innovative RA organization, the screening and RA approval of new services, its pre-production bill audits, and its coordination with corporate risk management.
  • Versatile, Portable & Corrections-Savvy: Quest for the Swiss Army Knife of Revenue Assurance Software by Mark Yelland — Revenue assurance maturity models are not cast in stone.  Since  best practices will change over time, it’s healthy to explore moving maturity models forward.  For example, great gains have been made in leakage detection, but RA corrections has been harder to master.  The author dreams about seven functions that should ideally come together in a single all-purpose revenue assurance software tool.
  • Bringing Strategic Planning & Value Engineering to Revenue Assurance interview with Maged Fawzy — Engineering and architectural techniques have a role in revenue assurance.  This interview with a top Egyptian RA consultant explains how continuous risk assessment and long range — yet flexible — RA planning can sharpen a carrier’s RA program and lead to better use of revenue assurance software and integration services.
  • Forensic Fossils: Is Your Revenue Assurance Shop Fit for Display at a Natural History Museum? interview with Jim Marsh — Without the continuous guiding light of seasoned revenue assurance leaders, even the best teams of RA professionals, technology, and business processes can fossilize and lose their vitality.
  • Revenue Assurance: The Magical Market Cap Multiplier by Van Howard & Curtis Mills — Many operators today consider revenue assurance yesterday’s opportunity.  But this article shows why significant revenue and cost leakage can still go undetected, even in companies with dedicated RA departments.  Also discussed are the benefits of a broader or more “forensic” approach to revenue assurance, an approach that boosts the bottom line regardless of the automated tools already in place.
  • From Risk to Robust: Turning the Big Picture Into a Real Agenda for Change in Telecoms by Eric Priezkalns — Inspired by a Financial Times article written by Nassim Taleb, author of “The Black Swan”, here is an insightful and entertaining primer on telecom risk management.  The article takes ten risk management lessons from Taleb and applies them specifically to the communications industry.  You’ll learn about the value of small scale trials, organization accountability, cures for a blame culture, incentives that work, the power of simplicity, and more.
  • Synthesizing the Telecom Business Assurance Practice With the Analytics World by Dan Baker — Business assurance is a wrapper term that allows you to draw a circle around various telecom assurance, control, and optimization activities.  This article maps business assurance as a subset of telecom analytics, constrasting it with marketing analytics while a diagram shows where biz assurance fits in the larger B/OSS world.
  • CABS Revenue Assurance Disputes: May the Carrier With the Best Data Win by Cheryl Smith Rardin & David West — Revenue assurance innovation is far easier when partners cooperate to make it happen.  This articles shows how a U.S. operator, software vendor, and consultant teamed to develop a breakthrough in Carrier Access Billing (CABS) assurance.  Learn about: the dispute resolution data gap that needed to be filled, the partnering strategy, the implementation challenges, and payback results.
  • Revenue Assurance vs.  Business Assurance: Who’s the Rightful King of Controls Software? interview with Sergio Luis Silvestre — Business controls software, originally developed for RA, is finding application in other areas of the business such as internal audit, collections, security and risk management.  This article argues that “business assurance” is the best term to describe this broader set of  controls software that can find a home in numerous departments or functions of a CSP’s business.
  • PwC on the Business of Revenue Assurance Consulting & Mentoring interview with Tim Banks & Dan Stevens — Revenue assurance consulting firms offer a broad range of services to clients these days.  The article explains the practice of mentoring RA mangers and providing a CFO with visibility on the status of an operator’s business controls.  Perspective is also offered on the value of RA software and the opportunity to broaden the RA practice scope.
  • Robots for Hire: Verifying Accuracy In the Age of Complex Mobile Billing/Charging interview with Xavier Lesage — As real-time charging and complex lifestyle calling plans gain credence across the globe in wireless, billing quality issues will rise in importance.  This article discusses a unique managed services approach to invoice testing and roaming fraud protection that checks results against advertised or published source data for the utmost accuracy.
  • Ericsson: Revenue Assurance Consulting With an NGN Flavor interview with Thomas Steagall — Helping operators detect billing and provisioning problem is merely table stakes in the RA services business these days.  The article discuss why operators need to ramp up their RA function with service experience and group-wide financial health monitoring.  Advise is also offered on: key RA maturity questions, risk-and-reward contracts, and how to extract greater value from software investments.
  • Do-It-Yourself RA for Small Operators and MVNOs interview with Mark Yelland — Budget-minded small operators and MVNOs are no longer hamstrung in RA capability anymore.  This article offers high-leverage strategies for operators who cannot afford expensive RA software tools.  With  data access, brains, and a DIY philosophy, any small operator can map a  path to greater RA savings, maturity, and program growth.
  • Revenue Assurance Maturity: Report From the Arena interview with Eric Nelson — Revenue assurance maturity can‘t be easily computed.  How do you  compare the KPIs of Comcast billing with that of mobile money RA in Western Africa?  Even still, this article offers some universal RA wisdom from a straight-shooting veteran of carriers large and small.  Topics discussed include: dashboard or process, COTS vs. inhouse solutions, and tips on gaining internal support for the RA practice.