O2: ‘Mobile brands of the future must take an experience-first approach’

O2 is integrating its marketing in a way that matches the seamless mobile interactions users demand as it launches a nationwide push to highlight its role in bringing some of those experiences to life.

Question marks hover over the future of the brand ahead of its proposed purchase by Three’s owner Hutchison. But until regulators give their verdict on the deal, it is business as usual for O2’s marketers who are adjusting to an integrated way of working, across disciplines and teams, in order to think experience-first.

“There’s no change,” to O2’s marketing despite Telefonica and Hutchison agreement on £10.25bn fee for the business in March, said its marketing and consumer director Nina Bibby. “Three is a competitor and our focus is on our customers and building for them a brand that helps them get the most out of their mobile device."

O2’s move to carve out an integrated experience began last year when different touchpoints, like search and social media, were brought under the marketing function. With the foundations in place, Bibby wants the eclectic dynamic across her team to shape one experience for customers that is underpinned by sharper insights and collaboration with other parts of the business. This yearning for collaborative thinking also extends to O2’s agency partners, which are all being given the chance to play a greater role in the future of the brand’s marketing, whether that’s sponsorship or media through programmatic.

“Three is a competitor and our focus is on our customers and building for them a brand that helps them get the most out of their mobile device."

Elements of this approach can be seen in the brand’s latest multi-million campaign to trumpet a variety of new offers available through its Priority loyalty scheme. A TV ad kicks of the effort today (26 June), continuing O2’s cheeky “Be More Dog” mantra by showing high-street shoppers receiving the rewards and, like a dog wags its tail when it is happy, so do they.

The campaign comes as O2 extends its £1 lunch offer to Boots, a move that will see the retailer join the offer’s existing partners including Upper Crust, Pumpkin and Domino’s.

Both marketing bursts are being measured in a way that tries to capture the entirety of the experience through a greater reliance on multi-attribution analysis and the use of a revamped econometric model. “It’s not just about click throughs anymore. it’s about how other things we can attribute all the impacts on customers to their final behavior,” added Bibby.

Alongside this, changes have taken place at the top end of O2's marketing to ensure campaign planning and evaluation is more robust and customer centric. Bibby’s role as both marketing and consumer mobile champion means both profit and loss parts of those divisions now sit around the same table in order to unearth new opportunities. It is no small feat but corporate silos, conflicting interests and ill-advised sales targets are neither the consumer reality nor business strategy for the future.

Despite undergoing internal overhauls, O2’s marketing has been mindful of wider industry channels particularly in personalisation and programmatic. For personalisation, the business plans to pump a significant amount through Weve, the mobile data platform it purchased in May and subsequently vowed to grow 10-fold to 31 million in the coming years.

To prove the importance of relevancy, Bibby citied results from O2’s CSI study for period Q1 2014 to Q3 2014. Pay Monthly customers who are highly satisfied with relevance of communications are 2.5 times more likely to stay with the business, according to the report and are 4 times more likely to buy additional products and services than customers dissatisfied with relevance of communications.

On programmatic, Bibby said it would play a bigger role in its marketing mix moving forward. Even though the business has hundreds of millions of monthly impressions, improvements have been good with click-through rates increasing by at least 33 per cent and its trading performance with the programmatic platform showed 61 per cent improvement versus traditional digital display. Programmatic is even delivering results on par with search, according to the business.

“Some people thing programmatic divides creativity but I don’t believe that,” said Bibby. “You still need to have very strong creative in a programmatic world. That’s a huge bonus.”

With O2’s brand being built on experience, it’s no surprise that ongoing debate on the merits and downsides of ad blockers has piqued its interest. Several unnamed mobile operators are reportedly set to block advertising on their networks in order to wrestle revenues from the likes of Google and Facebook. O2’s motives remain unclear but Bibby said the time wasn’t right to introduce a feature that could potential upset the value dynamic between brand and consumer.

“We’re always trying to find new ways to give our customer s abetter mobile experience” she continued. “There are interesting [ad blocker] models being reported like Shine that can give people more choice over the advertising they see. To date, I’m not sure that I’m ready to embrace an approach that takes a wholesale approach to ad blocking across our mobile network.”

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