T-Mobile buys carpooling advertising network
T-Mobile said it acquired Octopus Interactive for an undisclosed amount. The company describes the octopus as the nation’s largest network of interactive video screens inside Uber and Lyft vehicles, reaching over 5 million unique passengers per month.
T-Mobile said it would put the operation into the Marketing Solutions division it created last year. The division is headed by Mike Peralta, a longtime ad technology executive.
“We have the ambition to be a multi-billion dollar player in the advertising technology industry”, Peralta told Ad Exchanger.
T-Mobile’s journey into ad technology began in 2019 when the company the mobile marketing start-up discreetly acquired PushSpring. And it crystallized last year, shortly after the operator announced it would begin automatically enrolling its customers in a program that will allow T-Mobile to sell details of web activities and applications from. its clients to advertisers.
But Peralta told AdExchanger that T-Mobile has not aggressively pushed its new advertising business.
Today, however, the operator’s acquisition of Octopus opens up a new avenue of growth: out-of-home video and digital advertising (DOOH). “It adds new arrows to our quiver,” Peralta told AdExchanger, as the Octopus ads are essentially located in “a living room at the back of a carpool”.
According to T-Mobile, the DOOH market has grown by 80% over the past year.
Another element of the Octopus acquisition by T-Mobile: the phones used by drivers in the Octopus advertising system will be connected to the T-Mobile network.
Overall, T-Mobile’s new advertising business is primarily focused on helping advertisers sell targeted messages to mobile customers based on their activities and the apps on their phones. For example, an unnamed grocery brand used data from T-Mobile marketing solutions to identify people who visit stores like Whole Foods and Costco, then match that data to people with the Pinterest app who also match T-Mobile’s demographic for “Millennial Moms”. The brand then created an advertising campaign to specifically target these users.
T-Mobile’s marketing department only supports in-app ads on Android phones. It does not work on phone web browsers or on Apple phones. This is in part due to a change in the entire browser tracking cookie industry as well as Apple’s decision to prevent app tracking in its latest iOS version.
T-Mobile’s additional investment in the ad technology space is remarkable given that AT&T and Verizon have pulled out of the business. AT&T announced last month that it would sell its Xandr programmatic advertising business to Microsoft for an undisclosed amount. And, as AdExchanger notes, the trend is global: Singtel in Singapore would seeks to cede Amobee while the Norwegian Telenor Recently sold tapad.