Report: AT&T to launch new sponsored data program in tandem with Aquto

AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) plans to launch a new sponsored data program that offers customers the ability to get free mobile data if they look at advertising from marketers, according to a VentureBeat report.

The program, called Data Perks, will be available to postpaid customers on Mobile Share Value plans; AT&T has around 50 million such customers. The report noted that Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T's Mobile & Business Solutions Group, discussed the program at Rutberg's Future:Mobile conference in San Francisco earlier this month. No date has been set yet for the launch of the program.

AT&T is staying mum on Data Perks for now. "We do not have any agreement to announce and have made no announcement about a new data program," the company said in a statement to VentureBeat. An AT&T spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

AT&T is working with data monetization firm Aquto on the program, the report noted. Aquto has been a key partner in AT&T's Sponsored Data program, which it launched in early 2014. Sponsored data plans give customers free access or zero-rated data for certain services that the providing companies subsidize.

Advertisers have been using Aquto's MoVE Zero mobile value exchange platform to take part in the AT&T program to defray the cost of users' access to mobile video advertisements. The platform supports a variety of innovative business models such as providing users with extra data on monthly data plan if they download a specific app. Advertisers typically pay Aquto for mobile advertising support and analytics, and then Aquto then pays AT&T for the bandwidth consumed by a user.

Aquto CEO Susie Kim Riley told VentureBeat that to many brands Data Perks is a lead generation campaign. Riley said subscribers are rewarded with data when they sign up for services, learn about new products, discover new apps or click through and purchase something at a brand's e-commerce site.

Subscribers can accumulate data in their Data Perks account and transfer their data directly to their account to add on top of their existing data bucket. Data Perks users can also download apps from app stores and be reimbursed for mobile data charges, and data in the Data Perks account does not expire. 

It's unclear which brands will be a part of Data Perks when the program launches.

Despite having a relatively small roster of clients for the Sponsored Data program, AT&T executives have repeatedly said they are bullish on the program's prospects. Research firm Strategy Analytics has reported that sponsored data plans are gaining traction around the world, especially in China and Europe. The firm has said that the U.S. is probably not the most favorable market for sponsored data plans, but it said there is definitely potential for such plans in the U.S.

For more:
- see this VentureBeat article

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