Sponsored data provides a useful business model for bringing mobile data to new users in emerging markets and to new device types —according to a new report from Strategy Analytics (www.strategyanalytics.com).

With sponsored data business models, third party companies like consumer brands, web stores or enterprises can pay the mobile operator for data used by consumers or employees to access their content in a toll-free model, or can offer data rewards like loyalty points. Key findings from the research group’s report:

° Sponsored data use cases gaining traction today in emerging markets like Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria range from advertising, free access to online commerce apps, games and app stores, free access for banking apps, to support for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) by enterprises, education and healthcare.

° Opera Software, which recently won an award for its web pass and sponsored web pass in the category Best Mobile Product, Initiative or Service in Emerging Markets in the Global Mobile Awards at MWC 2015, has supported successful sponsored data campaigns with ten mobile operators in emerging  markets.

° China has been a particularly strong market for sponsored data, with AsiaInfo a key platform vendor supporting the market growth. China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom are all supporting sponsored data offers, with sponsors like Alibaba and Baidu focusing on growing traffic and users to their online stores and apps.

° Leading operators evaluating or launching sponsored data include AT&T, Airtel, Millicom, Telefonica, Telenor, Telkomsel, TIM Brasil and Vodafone; Facebook’s Internet.org is looking to expand its partnerships with operators to create a free data on-ramp to the mobile Internet in emerging markets.
“Wearables, connected car and IoT – these device categories will definitely benefit from new thinking on how data connectivity is offered,” says Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, director, Wireless Operator Strategies, Strategy Analytics. “Sponsors can be the device makers or other brands, and free data use can even be embedded in specific apps for the devices. People will not have to worry about setting up a wireless account for each new device, and brands like insurance companies, services, and sports drinks will have a new way to reach their target customers.”