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Brands line up to use Weve's mobile platform as Vodafone finalises integration

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By Jessica Davies | News Editor

February 4, 2013 | 5 min read

Kimberly-Clark-owned brand Kleenex and National Blood Service are among the first brands to use Weve’s mobile commerce platform comprising all three shareholders EE, O2, and Vodafone.

Weve, the mobile marketing and wallet joint venture between the three major mobile networks, has been running with EE and O2 and has been in the final stages of incorporating the final shareholder Vodafone to the platform, bringing the combined opt-in customer database to 15 million.

The B2B joint venture, which was cleared by the European Commission last September, will now focus on running targeted SMS txt campaigns on behalf of advertisers across the 15 million-strong opt-in customer base of the three shareholders.

Brands and agencies can now choose from a range of products and services including location-based messaging, app discovery messaging, targeted push SMS and video messaging.

Nancy Cruickshank, Weve's launch CEO, said the completion of Vodafone’s integration means the venture can now accelerate its plans to push mobile marketing into the mainstream.

“We want to move the conversation and reframe the debate on mobile, not just a platform for one-off campaigns, but the launching point for the ground breaking, innovative and long-term campaigns of the future,” she said.

Meanwhile it is also developing display advertising services, meaning advertisers can run mobile display campaigns across all three shareholders’ opt-in customer databases from a single, standardised platform. However, all messages sent out will be strictly frequency capped.

Cruickshank said the road map for display advertising is particularly exciting. “It will be intensely useful to offer simple access to all our shareholders display platforms using the data set we have access to,” she said.

It will also consider broader opportunities around display, and will explore how its data can potentially be applied to ad networks, exchanges and demand-side-platforms, according to Cruickshank.

“We are focused on how to use the data to create the right customer propositions as without that it’s a road to nowhere. As we move forward we will look at how to extend the technology and service whether it is in an exchange environment or wallet – the important thing is to make it the right thing for the customer so they don’t feel they are being spammed but it feels tailored and in their control,” she said.

Weve’s commercial director Alison Reay said the scale of the database and investment of the major shareholders will help boost confidence among brands which have not yet cracked how to incorporate mobile to their marketing mix.

“We have actual first-party data – not assumed data – with a scale of 15m you can start building confidence among brands and agencies and say 'we can deliver this',” she said.

It is important when talking to brands to see how mobile can fit with their business challenges and propositions not just their marketing ones, said Reay. “Brands get the scale but are not so sure how to apply it – it’s then when you ask them what their business issues are. Often with the big retailers it’s about the challenges of getting people through the doors – once they are in there they believe they can sell to them with offers and things.

“Once you know that you can start thinking about how mobile can help with that, rather than just talking about it because it’s the year of mobile. It’s about talking to brands about how it all joins together with other media.”

Meanwhile Weve will also advise brands and agencies how best to target campaigns and will offer data analysis of previous campaigns so it can feed back useful information on customer behavioural patterns. It will encourage brands to have an “always on” strategy, according to Reay.

“One of the things the search business has done phenomenally well over the past 10 years is to encourage advertisers to advertise all the time, and we believe mobile messaging should be done in that way. Rather than looking at doing a two-day or two-week campaign and seeing if it’s effective, we have been working with brands to have an 'always-on' strategy.

“This doesn’t mean they advertise every day of the year but rather that we do more behind the scenes to monitor segments they are interested in or the behaviours of people involved in previous campaigns and how they have changed, so that when they do come back they can have much richer data and be more targeted with what they do. People are dipping in and out of mobile still, but with this and the display service on the way there is more opportunity to be always on,” she said.

The other major part of Weve’s business will be to offer a standardised mobile payment platform through which banks and payment firms can more easily integrate to offer mobile wallets to consumers across multiple handsets.

This will launch after the marketing services have been more fully developed, requiring more lead time to integrate with the banks along with near-field communications (NFC).

Weve is also keen to encourage other mobile operators including 3, Virgin Mobile and Tesco Mobile to join the platform as service users, on the same commercial terms as the shareholders, pooling their own opt-in customer data. The talks are ongoing.

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