The recent Facebook gathering, F8, revealed some more of the company’s plans. In one announcement Facebook said it was launching its own third party ad platform, with the same level of personalization and targeting as its own. In another, App Link is designed to make it easier to share content within the Mobile App universe.
Meanwhile Google is trying to expand the reach of its search engine by tagging and indexing content within apps. No competition there then!
It is no surprise that both companies are focusing so much effort on mobile apps. In 2013, Mr Zuckerberg said that if he had come up with Facebook then, not several years earlier, it would have been born as a mobile app. Now almost 60 percent of the company’s revenue comes from mobile advertising.
Zuckerberg was quick to say that Google is coming at it from a different point of view. So, um, they are both making apps more navigable and therefore easier to plant adverts in the way of customers, but that is somehow different from the same thing? Zuckerberg certainly seems to be dealing with the move from social network to thoroughly commercial network quite well.
So, where do telecoms companies sit in all of this?
The initial, world-weary answer would seem to be ‘sitting on the sidelines, watching OTT players make millions while all they can do is provide cheap bandwidth and, sob, make virtually no money.’
A more positive response might be to consider that both companies are aiming to make the in-app (and inter app) experience better and easier. And one thing that a couple of telecoms companies have recently proven is that in-app billing is a very successful source of new revenue.
While Facebook, Google and probably a handful of start ups are working on a better app experience, banks and payment providers are realizing that they have to have mobile banking and payment apps that are easy, slick and compelling to Generation Y.
All of this simply reinforces our argument that Direct Operator Billing (DOB) or variations of it (in-app advertising management?) is a major opportunity for telecoms companies who are prepared to grab it. At this point, with innovation happening all around them, there is no strategy that is not high risk, especially doing nothing.
Billing capabilities and experience will be a crucial weapon in this – and both Facebook, Google and many others know it.
Ironically, the people who might know it in their heads but not yet their hearts are the people who devise the strategy for telecoms companies.