Mobile operators’ JV hits the ground running but momentum must follow

An uncharacteristically swift debut from the UK’s operators must receive decisive follow through to survive the cut and thrust of the marketing arena.

Ronan Shields

My debut in the Marketing Week news pages detailed EE, O2’s and Vodafone’s joint venture Weve starting to trade just two months after its official formation.

To quickly recap, Weve has begun selling mobile messaging campaigns against the O2 More customer base with EE and Vodafone’s numbers soon to follow.

What’s striking here is that these three behemoths have managed to set their more immediate corporate and competition issues aside to provide a media buying platform that one source described to me as “bigger than print in terms of scale.”

With 80 per cent of the UK’s mobile phone users potentially accessible from one point of access, marketers must pay attention to the Weve proposition – no matter how cynical you are initially.

For those of you less familiar with the mobile marketing  landscape, the initial cynicism around Weve, or “Project Oscar” as it was originally known, doubted the likelihood of it ever getting off the ground.

Similar pan industry initiatives led by mobile operators in the past have resulted in abortive initiatives and farce but with mobile marketing the three stakeholders have found true cohesion.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, the scale of the task ahead is much greater than anything Weve has already achieved and many questions remain about how it will develop going forward.

For instance, just how many of its subscribers will Vodafone bring to the table when it gets on board in the first quarter of next year? More importantly, just how will it go about activating this?

Vodafone is notoriously risk averse in this respect and has been quiet in speaking about how it intends to do so, whereas EE and O2 had their Orange Shots and O2 More schemes in the past making it a comparatively simple migration process.

Also, just how will Weve involve itself in the mobile display advertising space where Apple, Google et al have a marked head start? That entry to the market won’t be such as straight forward one I suspect.

But what’s clear is that the Weve proposition remains a compelling one. For those of you whose CMO keeps asking ‘what are we going to do about mobile?’ it’s certainly one you should keep on your radar and maintaining its momentum will be key to convincing the market.

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