Back in 2015, a then little-known software company called Shine rose rapidly in prominence when it was chosen by Denis O’Brien (the founder and chairman of the Digicel mobile operator group) to power the blocking of ads across their mobile networks in the Caribbean and Asia Pacific. Digicel argued that the ads alone on the mobile internet and in apps were using up as much as 10% of customers’ data plans.
O’Brien gained global attention in September 2015 when he said he was “taking a stand” against the big publishers of web ads, name-checking Google, Yahoo and Facebook. He was angry that they were generating revenue off the back of Digicel’s network without paying his company a cent.
Whilst fewer ads meant faster load times and less data usage (great for for mobile subscribers) it also meant that organisations were being deprived of revenue. This revenue is what O’Brien had highlighted.
At the time, ad-blocking has been thrust into the headlines when it was revealed that the latest update of Apple’s mobile operating system (iOS 9) had ad-blocking capabilities built-in. You do something to one side of the mobile ecosystem though and it ripples all the way across, having consequences.
Digicel’s plan to become the first telecoms operator to block ads of the biggest internet giants hit the buffers almost immediately though. No other mobile operator group had the stomach for the fight and none stepped in to support Digicel. The first thing. Next the internet giants waded in and in parallel an umbrella group of telecoms regulators suggested Digicel’s actions could be illegal and a breach of its licences. That was that end of the ‘resistance’…
The likes of Facebook (WhatsApp), Google and Viber have waded into the A2P
Fast forward five years and mobile operators find themselves in a real predicament. The OTT (over-the-top) chat apps have decimated their P2P (person-to-person) SMS business as well as of course traditional Voice revenues. Operators own attempts to set up their own chat apps have almost all fallen flat on their faces. The likes of Facebook (WhatsApp), Google and Viber have waded into the A2P (application-to-person – B2C and B2B in plain language) world now with their own business messaging offerings. But pull up a chair, get a drink and some popcorn – we’re far from being done yet.
2020 has not exactly been the kindest of years for so many, throwing governments, swathes of enterprises and untold millions of consumers alike, a vicious series of hard curveballs we have been unable to dodge. Most (if living then!) will not have experienced global economic and social impact on this magnitude since World War 2. Hard lockdowns with so many travel bans (many still in place for the foreseeable future) has impacted operators’ roaming revenues massively too. When will operators get a respite from this onslaught?
Here at Vox we are very pragmatic and strongly believe that if operators do not step up right now to take what is rightfully theirs, then they at strong risk of becoming irrelevant in so many ways, little more than a pipe for the digital giants to push their content through to their subscribers. A conduit and nothing more. Mobile operators can do so much right now to increase their own revenues and margins though, all whilst enhancing their mobile subscriber satisfaction rates and securing hard won loyalty.
OTTs are here to stay but this does not mean operators have to capitulate
Whilst operators’ P2P SMS revenues buckled under intense OTT pressure, the world of A2P is conversely experiencing a fantastic renaissance and is positively flourishing. SMS is ubiquitous and no digital channel taken in isolation drives engagement rates like it does. Any organisation with content of a marketing, transactional or informative nature to deliver would be remiss not to have A2P SMS in their content delivery strategy.
With A2P SMS volumes so visibly on the up, right now is the time for every mobile operator to monetise all their inbound A2P transactions and as well as coming up with a great proposition to help their own enterprise clients better engage with customers. A2P is a different beast from the P2P world and the fastest time to market for operators is by partnering with a company that understands A2P totally and can provide a strong stream of revenue from Day 1. And Vox is that company.
Vox have been protecting the interests of its operator partners for many years and understand that every angle has to be covered when working to monetise operators’ traffic with them as well as clamping down on spam and fraudulent traffic. Bypass and fraud are constantly evolving and we do everything possible to stay ahead of the game.
OTTs are here to stay but this does not mean operators have to capitulate. There is plenty that can be done to shore up revenues and margins but action is required now. The clock is counting down…
Written by Ehsan Ahmadi, CEO of Vox Carrier
Mobile operators are finally starting to understand that monetizing A2P SMS can not just only earn them more […]