AT&T (NYSE: T) AdWorks, the advanced advertising arm of the telecom giant, said it will use anonymous mobile subscriber information to help advertisers better target their TV ads.
AdWorks is adding two new data sources to "TV Blueprint," its audience targeting platform, and one data source will include anonymous and aggregate AT&T mobile subscriber data, including what wireless device they are using, what operating system they are using for their device, how large a data plan they have, and when their contract expires. Another set of demographic data AT&T will use to help advertisers better target their ads is anonymous and aggregate AT&T U-verse TV set-top viewership data for single-person households.
"AT&T AdWorks TV Blueprint is the most efficient way to buy targeted TV advertising at scale," Mike Welch, president of AdWorks, said in a statement. "By adding anonymous and aggregate AT&T mobile subscriber data, we are giving marketers the ability to reach their target TV audiences with greater accuracy."
The company thinks that by using mobile subscriber data, marketers and advertisers will be able to more specifically target ads toward tech-conscious consumers, including those who are looking for a new smartphone or other device.
AT&T said the data will come from its mobile customers as well as audience data from its AT&T U-verse subscribers to create a new composite view of TV viewing by wireless users. AT&T is hoping the offering could become an important new hook for advertisers and agencies looking to target TV viewers based on the devices they use.
The new data comes at a time when so-called "device-targeting" is emerging as a potential breakthrough for targeting consumers across mobile, Web, TV and other platforms. It could also help play a role in the attribution systems being developed to help the ad industry understand which platforms are delivering the best consumers for their campaigns.
As MediaPost notes, while the data streams AT&T AdWorks will use for its TV Blueprint platform do yet include any mobile behavior data, the new information could allow advertisers to target ads to consumers based on what device they use and to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns.
AT&T AdWorks has more squarely put its focus on TV advertising and has shifted away from mobile advertising. In October 2013, AT&T shut down the mobile ad network segment of AdWorks. At the time, the company said it would focus on tracking subscriber behavior via its U-verse service and other internal platforms.
And this isn't the first time AT&T has hinted at using data from its mobile subscribers for ads. AT&T said in the summer of 2013 it "may" begin selling anonymous information about its customers' wireless and Wi-Fi locations, U-verse usage, website browsing, mobile application usage and "other information" to other businesses. The carrier has said it will protect its customers' privacy by providing the data in aggregate so it cannot be used to identify an individual. The carrier has also said its customers can opt out of the program.
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Correction, July 29, 2014: This article incorrectly stated that AT&T will get customer data from other cable and satellite TV operators. It will only get data from its mobile and U-verse customers.