Feeds

O2 hits button on location-based ads

Coffee'n'shampoo straight to your phone. Kinda

High performance access to file storage

O2 is to start pushing out SMS and MMS advertising, based on where you are and without requiring smartphones or apps - though the operator promises it will be an opt-in service.

From today O2 customers who have signed up to O2 More will receive messages pushed from Starbucks and L'Oreal, regardless of their handset or contract, but only when they pass through locations pertinent to those companies in a development that's been far too long coming.

O2 is very keen to emphasise that O2 More is opt in - no one is going to receive messages unless they've said they want to, and just to be sure there's no possibility of offence no one will get more than one message a day. O2 More has been running for a while, targeting messages based on age, gender and interest, so adding location is a logical step.

Network operators always know roughly where one is, based on the cell with which one's phone is constantly communicating. In Europe this data is even logged for 12 months for law-enforcement purposes, but that data has always been locked in the "network" part of the business and not available elsewhere in the company. Location-based advertising doesn't need the accuracy of GPS or the attendant battery consumption, and operators have been far too slow to take advantage of the information they've been sitting on for decades.

Operators have massive amounts of information that could be tapped for the delivery of advertising. Five years ago a Singapore operator started a project to profile customers, based on their calls and messaging, in order to target advertising at the trend leaders.

That kind of thing requires a huge integration effort, but is becoming more common: one can imagine that Blyk's attempt to run a network financed entirely through advertising would have been a lot more successful if the company had been able to profile its customers and deliver location-based advertising over SMS.

But Blyk's UK network was a virtual operator - it ran on Orange's infrastructure, so profiling data was harder to come by. Real network operators know as much about their customers as Google or Facebook do, but they've been criminally slow to take advantage of it.

O2 More tells us the messages it delivers are "a service to consumers, not an intrusion, enabling people to connect with brands at the right place and in real-time", but the important thing is that the advertising is being delivered by a company subject to UK regulations, and that users can opt out.

It seems likely there will come a time when failing to opt in to such a system leads to a more expensive tariff, but as long as the option exists (and is respected) it's hard to argue with. Still, they'll have to sign up some more interesting advertisers before we'll be putting our names on the service. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
Beat it, freetards! Dyn to shut down no-cost dynamic DNS next month
... but don't worry, charter members, you're still in 'for life'
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.