T-Mobile’s MetroPCS counters Facebook with Mobile Posse’s content service

Mobile Posse's service for MetroPCS customers offers a variety of content immediately after users unlock their phone.

MetroPCS, the prepaid brand from T-Mobile, is one of several major U.S. wireless brands using software from Mobile Posse to wrest consumers’ attention away from Facebook, thereby giving mobile operators some additional advertising revenue.

Specifically, Mobile Posse’s metroZONE comes preinstalled on all MetroPCS Android smartphones. If users opt in to the service (which they can do when they first activate their device) the application gives them headlines and other content when they unlock their phone. Ads are served against that content, revenues from which presumably are shared between Mobile Posse and its carrier partners.

Greg Wester, SVP of marketing and business development for Mobile Posse, said the metroZONE app essentially stands as a way for MetroPCS to acquire the attention of idle mobile phone users who are looking for ways to pass the time while waiting in line at the grocery store, for example.

It’s that time-filling, attention-grabbing content that makes Facebook billions of dollars every quarter, Wester argued, and that’s revenue that is completely passing mobile operators by.

Wester said Mobile Posse works with “several” of the four nationwide wireless operators in the United States, though he said the company is contractually prevented from naming its customers besides MetroPCS. Overall, Mobile Posse’s software runs on roughly 15 million total mobile phones, and the company said 7 million of those users have opted in to its service. The company said it delivers its content roughly 34 million times per day, recording 45 million ad impressions per day.

Today, Mobile Posse released new research that the company said indicates strong demand among consumers for a service that provides content to phones when they are unlocked. The company cited findings from a survey of 900 mobile phone users, conducted by market research firm Phoenix Marketing International, that found that 50.4% of respondents are more interested in a “Proactive Content Discovery” service like that from Mobile Posse than they are in primarily using Facebook. 

Mobile Posse earlier this year released another batch of research that it said points to further demand for its service. The firm said that, based on its research, 47% of device unlocks occur with no app destination in mind, a figure up from 37% last year. That, Wester argued, indicates that there is an opportunity for mobile operators to deliver content—weather, gas prices, daily deals, news headlines, that kind of thing—to idle users before they visit Facebook.

Of course, Mobile Posse isn't the only way for mobile operators to get into the advertising game. For example, AT&T and Verizon both have made moves into advertising. AT&T is working to offer targeted advertising services across its wireless and wireline networks, while Verizon has acquired ad-tech companies like Yahoo, AOL and Millennial Media.