T-Mobile experiments with branded content as it sponsored a “commercial-free break” during Fox Sports’ broadcast of the World Series on Tuesday night. In the middle of the third inning, the network ran an in-game analysis session instead of the usual commercial break. Fox Sports studio host Kevin Burkhardt announced that the break was “brought to you by T-Mobile,” and finished the segment with a live read about the T-Mobile One campaign. A logo for the carrier’s unlimited phone and data plan was also prominently featured on the studio desk as well as on the bottom of the screen during the segment.
What Brands Should Do
This native ad serves as an interesting example of how traditional media companies can incorporate branded content into their existing content. One trend we identified in our Outlook 2016 is that consumers today are getting increasingly annoyed by the constant bombardment of ads and subpar digital ad experiences to the point that many are opting for the ad-free experiences enabled by subscription-based services and ad blockers. Therefore, it is imperative that brands and media owners work together to engage audiences in new ways, such as sponsored content and native ads, in order to earn consumer eyeballs.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced on Twitter that he’s won the bid for putting a temporary tattoo ad on the right shoulder of track star and two-time Olympian Nick Symmonds for $21,800. Legere is also polling his over 2.4 million Twitter followers for what the tattoo should be. But whatever the CEO chooses to put on the athlete, it won’t be the first ad tattoo that Symmonds has worn, as he already has a temporary tattoo of his caffeinated-gum company Run Gum on his left shoulder.
What Brands Need To Do
It is getting increasingly difficult for brands to get consumers’ attention with traditional ads, thanks to the consistent growth of ad-free services, the rise of ad-blocker usage, and the growing aversion to ads in general. Therefore, it is not surprising that brand marketers have been experimenting with new ad formats to reach their audiences, such as sponsored content and native ads. While this tattoo ad spot may be a slightly extreme example of this sort of experimentation, it is illustrative of how brands are exploring new ways to deal with ad avoidance.
For more information on how brands should leverage interesting branded content to earn consumer eyeballs, check out the Ad Avoidance section of our Outlook 2016.
Bold, or stupid? The T-Mobile keynote was full of surprising moments, not least of which was the announcement of Contract Freedom – or in other words, how to get customers to join T-Mobile. To do this, they’ll pay your termination fee from other carriers – while also counting on you to turn in your existing phone, buy a new T-Mobile phone, sign up for a T-Mobile plan, and bring your number over to T-Mobile. The timing of the announcement is quite ironic, as the “bold new plan” comes on the heels of AT&T’s announcement to pay $200 per line that users switch onto its network. Whether mobile carriers are getting desperate in the face of increased consumer options, or whether this is just a game of matching the competition remains to be seen. What’s sure, though, is that carriers are trying to expand options and ways for consumers to get onto their service.
T-Mobile announced Tuesday that it will finally be carrying the iPhone starting on April 12th. The iPhone 5 will be compatible with T-Mobile’s LTE network, which was also launched on Tuesday, but older models will not run on this new network. As a part of it’s recently touted “Uncarrier” plan, T-Mobile won’t force users into signing a two-year contract and will allow them to pay full price for the phone, or to spread the cost over 24 months with installment plans – for example a 16GB iPhone 5 will be $99 up front with 24 months of $20 payments, for a total of $579, which is $70 less than buying the phone from Apple.
T-Mobile CEO, John Legere confirmed that the carrier will be selling the iPhone and will not be subsidizing the device. The radically different pricing structure offers far less expensive data rates in exchange for ponying up the $650-$850 to purchase the phone. While Europe has embraced this model for years, it remains to be seen whether U.S. consumers will buy in.