Verizon-AOL: Paves Way For Sponsored Data

The blockbuster news that Verizon Communications will acquire AOL has many speculating as to Verizon’s plans, particularly around how to leverage AOL’s ad technology. According to AOL financial reports, the company made $1.8 billion in ad revenue last year, and of that, $856 million came from serving ads to third parties (media other than AOL properties).  I think there is one distinct and immediate competitive advantage opportunity for Verizon to jump on with AOL — a sponsored data ad product on Verizon Wireless.

It could start with Verizon offering sponsored data as an ad product for AOL media properties, which admittedly isn’t a huge opportunity, but a great way to test the market. Verizon consumers could receive offers to view AOL media like Huffington Post (or one of my favorites, TechCrunch) on their mobile device, either through dedicated apps or via the browser, for free, the data session use is deducted from that consumers mobile data plan. In my recent report on sponsored data , I outline how mobile search is a good match for sponsored data. In either case, advertisers collectively pay for exposure.  More importantly, Verizon can easily extend the sponsored data product to third parties who have historically used the AOL ad network. It would be limited to Verizon Wireless users, but that is a hefty potential market to offer an advertiser.

Don’t be surprised to see a sponsored data ad product from Verizon and AOL before the end of 2015. Find out more about how sponsored data will become a significant advertising vehicle through this market report 

Forecast: Fast Checkout Slowly Changing Mobile Commerce

TAMPA, Fla., April 22, 2015 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Alipay, Visa Checkout and PayPal Express Checkout are making it easier for consumers to buy online using smartphones and tablets, but despite growing fast checkout use, larger smartphone screens and biometrics, more than 70% of global online payment volume will still come from PCs and laptops in 2018, according to a new market research forecast, Mobile Commerce Forecast, 2015-2018, from Mark Beccue Consulting.

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“Merchant adoption of fast checkout is the primary drag on the growth of mobile online purchasing,” said Mark Beccue, president of Mark Beccue Consulting, “Consumers want multiple options for fast checkout payment and they are not getting them.”

Some other key findings:

China represents a significant percentage of mobile commerce payment volume over the forecast period, including 40% of total mobile commerce payment volume in 2015

Fast mobile checkout options will become the battlefield which produces powerful payment providers over the next few years. Contenders in this space include PayPal, Visa Checkout, Alipay, MasterCard MasterPass, UnionPay, Google Wallet and Amazon.

Apple Pay and Samsung Pay will add the enablement of mobile commerce checkout to their mobile payment capabilities in the next two years.

Improving mobile commerce will ironically, improve mobile ad conversion and spend, particularly for mobile search advertising. MBC believes mobile advertising spend will increase over eMarketer forecasts 7-10% each year, year over year, for 2015 through 2018.

The forecast reveals mobile commerce payment volume by payment providers from 2015 through 2018. Market adoption of fast checkout, biometrics and larger screen smartphones were used to develop the forecast model. To view the Mobile Commerce Forecast: 2015-2018 introduction and other details including how to purchase, click here

Mark Beccue is an independent market research analyst with more than 20 years of experience in mobile technology business strategy and market research. For more information go to Mark Beccue Consulting .

Whatsapp Hits 800m MAUs – So What?

The world media was in awe as Facebook announced this week that Whatsapp now has 800 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs).

That’s nice, but it isn’t surprising, given the Whatsapp value proposition – super clean, super good messaging for almost nothing ($1/year plus any data access fees you would like to associate with its use). We all know this current business model won’t justify the price ($19B) Facebook paid for it.

So what’s next for Whatsapp? The keys are 1) a focus on key market, not global, market penetration/use, and 2) media channels, enterprise notifications and sticker monetization initiatives. Succeeding with these keys will take Whatsapp and Facebook to a whole new level.

The following excerpts from my Messaging Apps report, more:

Most mobile messaging platforms will remain regionally or national-market focused, or niche value proposition focused. 

The key battleground markets for mobile messaging platforms over the next few years will be China, India, Brazil and Indonesia. It is in these markets, which have large populations, mobile subscribers and growing mobile broadband/smartphone penetration, where mobile messaging platforms with global scale aspirations will focus their efforts. 

Facebook With Whatsapp (600 million MAUs) and Facebook Messenger (500 million MAUs), Facebook is the largest mobile messaging platform in the world other than SMS/MMS, with 1.1 billion MAUs as of December 2014. MBC believes Facebook’s collective messaging MAUs will reach 1.4 – 1.5 billion by the end of 2015, and will outpace Facebook’s social platform MAUs, which as of October 2014 were 1.35 billion.

Does Facebook see messaging platforms as a replacement for social networks? Do they believe consumers have social broadcast fatigue and are ready for a permanent shift to more personal small group and person to person communications? MBC believes the answer is yes. Facebook has recognized 1) that messaging platforms are gaining increased user engagement while social networks are losing it and 2) the growing power of mobile messaging platforms as a digital media distribution channel. Facebook is in a great position to exploit these things.

To this end, MBC believes Facebook will aggressively grow their messaging user base and at the same time will be working to monetize it., primarily via media channel advertising and other advertising, stickers and enterprise notifications. Both Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp will have opportunities to monetize enterprise notifications in markets where they have 50% or greater penetration of mobile users.


With its current free first year/$1 each year after value proposition, MBC believes Facebook’s Whatsapp will see continued growth fueled by India, Brazil and Indonesia, and will reach 820 million MAUs by the end of 2015. 

MBC believes Facebook will fund the growth of an independent Whatsapp under this unprofitable business model for a while longer because Facebook is looking for new users particularly in developing markets. 

Whatsapp is set to add voice calling in some markets for fees in 2015. MBC believes this is more of a user acquisition strategy for developing markets and not a direct revenue strategy. MBC believes Whatsapp will add media channels and enterprise notifications in 2015 and stickers in 2015 or 2016. 

More on the Facebook Messenger strategy, media channel, enterprise notification and other monetization strategies are available in this report .