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Is sponsored data the next major incentive, akin to free shipping?

(Tech News) Data sponsoring could be the next incentive marketers use to entice mobile users to engage with their content without the fear of fees.

real estate technology

real estate technology

Sponsoring your data use? Yes, please…

With the costs of mobile data usage on the rise, it is becoming increasingly difficult to persuade people to engage with mobile content. Sure, there are more Wi-Fi hotspots now than ever before, but public access is still a bit questionable security wise, so how do you entice mobile users to engage with your content on-the-go?

One way, at least if are are an AT&T subscriber is to sponsor your data usage.

AT&T began introducing the concept of sponsored data this year, but has only recently allowed companies to administer subsidies, in order to entice advertisers and content provider to try it out. points out that with sponsorship, you offer to pay the cost of data needed to download podcasts, advertisements, and the like for a set period of time, in hopes that customers will continue to engage with your content after the sponsorship period has expired.

Since this concept is just getting off the ground, it is difficult to tell whether or not it will be an effective way to steer consumers to your content.

Two issues that must be addressed

However, two issues need to be addressed, in my opinion, before this concept can really take off.

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First, if the sponsorship does not lead to customers continuing to engage with your content, and let’s face it: people are frugal and Wi-Fi is abundant, then spending money on sponsorship could be a waste of time and money. If there was a way for providers to offer an initial free period, followed by an additional promotional period where you could earn additional free time/sponsorship by watching ads, content, downloading podcasts and the like, people would be more likely to continue to engage with the sponsoring company.

Think of it in terms of Facebook games, when you play a Facebook game, rather than purchase additional lives or game boosts, you can watch sponsored content and “earn” them. This actively engages a user with the content, but only when they need it. This may be an option worth looking in to for marketers looking to sponsor downloads, but with minimal risk.

Second, does free Wi-Fi make the first option moot? Although there are security risks with connecting to a public network, it is free. If you are doing things like catching up on Facebook, or sending a few quick emails, the security risk may not be an issue when weighed against the reward of free Wi-Fi.

If the ads do not lead to an increase in usage, the idea will hardly be worth it; but if it does, it could be the next big thing in mobile data consumption competition. Only time will tell if this is a passing fad, or a gateway into the next hot incentive for mobile companies.

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Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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