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AT&T wants to put ads on your smartphone in exchange for $5 discount

Enlarge / An AT&T sign outside a company office in New York City. (credit: Getty Images | Roberto Machado Noa )

AT&T CEO John Stankey said the company may offer cellphone plans subsidized by advertising, giving customers monthly discounts of $5 or $10 in exchange for ads on their phones. “I believe there’s a segment of our customer base where given a choice, they would take some load of advertising for a $5 or $10 reduction in their mobile bill,” Stankey said in an interview with Reuters yesterday. Stankey apparently didn’t offer details on what form the ads would take.

According to Reuters, Stankey said that AT&T’s ad-supported phone plans could be introduced in “a year or two.” AT&T is already doing back-end work in its targeted-advertising system that could increase the value of such plans to AT&T’s ad-sales business:

AT&T engineers are creating “unified customer identifiers,” Stankey said. Such technology would allow marketers to identify users across multiple devices and serve them relevant advertising.

The ability to fine-tune ad targeting would allow AT&T to sell ads at higher rates, he said.

Stankey also said that a planned ad-supported version of HBO Max would play an important role in ad-supported phone plans, but he didn’t offer further details, according to Reuters.

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