How 5G SA Opens the Door to Real-Time, Contextual and Personalized Marketing

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This article was first published in RCR Wireless.

The marketing mantra of right offer, right customer, right time has been around for years, and in the telecoms industry offers have been relatively straightforward. Every communications service provider (CSP) has a system that sends alerts to customers (e.g. for topping up pre-paid accounts) and many have campaign management systems that send information about new data offers and new handsets.

Personalized marketing, direct to the handset, has until now been relatively straightforward as most offers were data bundles with the occasional content add-on (usually Netflix or Spotify). However, you could argue that with a limited range of offers the marketing messages from CSPs haven’t really been that personalized at all, more of a standard offer to a standard customer at a standard time type approach to marketing personalization.

5G SA (standalone) is set to change this. In terms of marketing campaigns and customer value management, CSPs can get a lot more personal, meaning greater uptake of offers, new revenue streams, and a better digital experience for the customer. A recent report from McKinsey revealed that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver “personalized interactions” and 76% “get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.”

Personalization isn’t just a “nice-to-have” anymore — customers expect it. They are used to personalized offers and recommendations from Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify and don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t get the same level of personalization from other service providers. However, when done well, personalization can significantly increase revenues as the McKinsey report also highlighted that “companies that excel at personalization generate 40% more revenue from those activities than average players.”

Personalization isn’t just about making the right offer. It needs to be at the right time as well as contextually aware, and it needs to be part of a longer process aimed at providing a personalized experience that makes the customer happy, loyal, and more valuable. The key to effective personalization is the use of data—and this is a big advantage that CSPs have. They have the network data for geolocation, usage data, as well as historical data on purchases, preferences, and profiles.

It is a combination of this data that can act as a trigger for a recommendation as well as guide what is offered and where the offer is made. It can also be used to determine what, when and where customer rewards can be delivered. By delivering a personalized, contextual experience, CSPs will build up profiles of customers so they can intelligently fine-tune offers to make them more personalized, and therefore, more attractive to customers.

To review how personalized, contextual marketing can work with 5G below are four use cases that cover gaming, family 5G experience in the home, smart city shopping mall and delivering a stadium event experience:

  1. Gaming – by analysing usage data a CSP can see that a customer (Susan) plays a lot of online games with her friend. So, the CSP can send a recommendation to Susan to buy a one-day gaming pass with 5G connectivity based on her profile and preferences for online gaming. After Susan purchases and uses the one-day 5G gaming pass, the CSP can send a further notification to Susan to purchase another one-day pass. After she purchases and uses this pass, the CSP can then notify and recommend to Susan the new 5G gaming bundle with a one-month discount offered. After one month’s usage, the CSP can then reward Susan with one month’s access to premium-level games.

  2. Family 5G experience in the home – the starting point for this personalized offer process is that the father has purchased 5G FWA for the home and the family starts to use that as shared mobile broadband. Based on this, the CSP can make a recommendation to try out the CSP’s entertainment streaming service with movies, TV series, music, and other content. Based on profile and preferences the family gets 1-month access with a 50% discount. Next, the CSP can make a recommendation for 5G mobile packages with unlimited data for the kids with a €10 digital coupon to the Steam gaming platform for online gaming outside of the house. If the family avail of this offer the CSP can deliver rewards to the family—e.g. the father gets one month of free access to the sports TV package (based on historical usage and preferences) and the mother gets a free one month access to the newly launched yoga application (again based on preferences and profile).

  3. Smart city shopping mall – in this scenario the CSP partners with a Smart City Shopping Mall that contains a 5G network with microwave cells to enable focused, geo-specific marketing. The customer is called Laura and from her profile preferences the CSP knows that she likes fashion, movies, and cosmetics. The CSP knows from the cell site ID when Laura arrives at the shopping mall. This is the initial trigger to set off a series of personalized offers ensured to deliver a personalized and good shopping experience for Laura. As Laura approaches the cosmetics shop she gets the first promotion, which is a digital coupon for 30% off purchases at the cosmetics shop on her mobile app. As Laura gets close to the fashion shop she gets a second promotion, which is a digital coupon for 40% off purchases at the fashion shop. Finally, Laura passes the movie theatre inside the mall and gets the third promotion — free popcorn and soft drink when purchasing a movie ticket. Laura decides to take the promotion, and as a reward when she gets home the CSP delivers a message letting Laura know that she has one month of free access to a new streaming TV platform.

  4. Stadium event experience – in this scenario the CSP partners with the event organizer, parking company, and the stadium company. James is a customer of the CSP and has purchased a ticket to a concert in the stadium and registered himself for the event, which is sponsored by the CSP. This is the starting point for a series of personalized offers to deliver the best stadium experience to James. Location data lets the CSP know that James is driving to the event so as he arrives at the stadium area he gets a reward of a 20% discount coupon on parking on his mobile app. When entering the stadium, he gets a recommendation on an event pack including the event app and the option to purchase AR/VR glasses for €15. James takes the offer, collects the AR/VR glasses at the pick-up point in the stadium, and as a reward he gets a 20% discount coupon on a meal package in the stadium. Thanks to buying the AR/VR glasses James can enjoy a new concert experience by watching it through AR/VR glasses and getting a 360° experience.  When the concert is over, James gets a reward of a 10% discount coupon to the next event at the stadium—and by paying $5 he gets access to the streaming recording highlights of the concert to watch it offline. James leaves the stadium feeling good that he’s had a personalized and memorable experience.

Simplifying complexity – Use of no-code to build offers, recommendations, and rewards

Looking at the above scenarios, there are a lot of moving parts, a lot of triggers and dependencies, and a lot of partners. This can open up new revenue streams for the CSP, which could include a % of the transaction value from a 3rd party partner and advertising revenues. Building complex, multi-party offers with a range of revenue-sharing agreements may be new ground for CSPs. Using a legacy offer catalogue that was designed to include a limited set of variables such as minutes of voice, number of texts and GB/MB of data could be a stretch.

The CSPs should, if they want to, build offers and processes themselves in hours using a GUI-driven no-code approach. These are then made available to a pre-integrated recommendation engine that executes them with a combination of pre-defined triggers consisting of network data, profile, and preference data. By using a no-code approach offers, recommendations, and rewards can be quickly and cost-effectively developed. This agile and fast approach enables CSPs to try out new ideas for personalized marketing without the high cost or fear of failure.

The four scenarios discussed in this article are the tip of the iceberg of how real-time, contextual, and personalized marketing can deliver a better 5G experience to customers and open new business models for CSPs. The underlying technology can also be used to provide personalized engagement with customers in a wide range of 5G verticals including telehealth, smart cities, education, and entertainment to name but a few.


Martin Morgan, Qvantel
Tero Lindholm, Nokia

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