EE, O2 and Vodafone's UK mobile JV Weve racks up £13m in revenue in first year and unveils 2014 roadmap

Weve, the UK mobile marketing and wallet joint venture between EE, O2 and Vodafone, has reported £13m in revenue for its first year, with an overall loss of £25m, according to its first filings at Companies House.

The B2B joint venture, which launched last September, generated the revenue from its mobile messaging business alone, with its display and wallet ventures still in beta phase.

The three shareholders, which represent a combined 80 per cent share of the market, invested £38m to launch the venture, which means a loss of £25m.

Investment for the first year went towards building the unified platform which ties together the disparate customer data of the three mobile operators. This includes phone numbers, device details, browsing history and location, with all data given on an opt-in basis and anonymous when passed through Weve’s platform.

This data has been used to offer customers more relevant marketing services including location-based SMS messaging – which is what generated the £13m in revenue.

Since launch it has recruited a team of 87 staff at the London office - equating to £150,000 in yield per person - and grown the opt-in database from the 15m at launch to more than 22m.

It has also launched its first loyalty trial with food chain Eat following the launch of its first consumer loyalty app Pouch, designed to store a retailer’s loyalty cards and push out offers to customers using Beacon technology.

Weve CEO David Sear told The Drum the figures represent "significant traction" for the first year, given many businesses don’t make revenue until the second, and attributed the loss to the creation of the highly complex, unified platform that integrates all three operators' data sets - which he described as a “considerable" asset.

“The biggest challenge was creating the data asset and technology platform to serve a third-party, data-derived audience in real time. We are serving display ads right now in 300 milliseconds, we are matching you the consumer as you land on a website with a campaign we have already booked from Tesco – that is not a trivial piece of work, and has caused no end of pain especially when you’re pulling it from three different sources into a secure environment...

“The fact we have chalked up £13m in revenue in year one against a messaging-only product set, is something we are pleased with. But the bigger picture for us is that our shareholders have invested heavily in creating the platform for mobile advertising that is now firing up our beta in display, he said.”

Accelerating the display ad service will now be a core focus, with a full beta launch “on track” for the end of June, according to Sear.

“If you look at the latest IAB figures messaging and display in 2013 accounted for £450m worth of revenue in the UK market, of which display accounted for £435m – so that’s the big market you have got to make an impact in.

"If we were beginning from scratch with the business - that's what I'd change - we would have done display earlier," he added.

The initial beta trials it has run with brands including Tesco and Sony, have seen 100 per cent re-bookings, and will launch in full in June.

It is also exploring the potential of tying together its targeting abilities between its display and messaging products, meaning it could retarget an individual who has looked at an online display ad - but not clicked through - with an SMS message. Although this would be a long-term project given it would need to scale its display service first.

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