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In our ‘5 minutes with’ profiles, MEF members talk about their business, their aspirations for the future and the wider mobile industry. This week, Florian Lichtwald, SVP of Global Telecom and Data Partnerships introduces zeotap.

What does zeotap do?

We unite the world’s most valuable data especially from telecom operators to enable the world’s largest brands to achieve better results in their advertising campaigns through precise targeting and intelligent technology. Mobile users have shown that they often prefer advertising as a currency when consuming digital content.

But since there is hardly any good mobile data out therefore people’s most important device  – mobile advertising has been largely irrelevant. We’re all about changing that and are glad that we could become telecom operators’ preferred partner in many markets to use their data to do exactly that based on best-in-class data privacy and security practices.

We’re particularly proud that we could win several of the largest telcos per market in Europe and Asia specifically and happy that we could show them this is a promising new business opportunity for them. In 2017 alone, 35 of the world’s top 100 brands have activated our data. While many telcos want to initially build out an own solution, they usually change their mind when they realise the real complexity of the advertising market, the necessary investments of resources and time and the advantages of being part of a larger platform.

When did you launch and what growth have you seen?

We founded the company in September 2014 in Berlin. Since then a lot has happened. We now have more than half a dozen telcos live with their data and many more in the pipeline going live this year and have additionally complemented their data with the data from other large enterprises with similarly high demands when it comes to security and privacy  to be able to satisfy advertisers’ diverse targeting needs.

That has profited the platform a lot. In many countries we have grown to become one of the major advertising agencies’ preferred data partner. Today we have offices in Berlin, New York, London, Madrid, Milan, Bengaluru and Mumbai and are looking to expand into further geographies during the course of the year.

What are your main goals?

It’s quite simple really. As a platform we offer a win-win situation for all the players involved in advertising including the consumer. Telcos can safely build an attractive new revenue stream that is pure profit since the data is already there.

Advertisers and publishers can offer much better results to the big brand spenders while improving the experience for the subscriber or consumer depending on the perspective.

Lastly, making such high-quality data available outside of the big walled gardens, mostly Facebook and Google, is attractive to all players since they do not necessarily profit from such high dependency.

Where do you see your business in three years’ time?

After making a name for our data offering amongst telcos and large enterprises and across advertisers in several markets, telecom data is ready for mass adoption. On this basis we can scale data revenues for our partners and easily transfer the successes from our existing markets to the new geographies we are moving into.

Machine learning is of course also a big topic and as a data platform with a strong focus on technology since our inception, we’ll have some very exciting products coming out soon.

What aspect of mobile is most exciting to you right now?

Brands and agencies have been focused for the past few years, in collecting 1st party data to build their internal assets, but lacked the capabilities needed to make those usable in the digital domain.

A recent trend that has been very exciting for the industry and has opened gigantic opportunities for telecom operators is that brands and agencies are finally looking for ways to activate their offline data for mobile targeting and are willing to pay large premiums for this service.

Our product zeotap Connect is exactly tailored to those needs and we’re excited about this additional opportunity into which we put a lot of our expertise around handling sensitive data safely.

What’s the most critical issue that will hit mobile within the next 12 months?

In the last years,  growing internal data assets and capabilities was top-of-mind for marketers all over the world, a reaction also to the lacking quality of available 3rd party data which was usually inferred or modeled and quickly proved ineffective.

Now that telecom data has become available in several markets, a strong shift in thinking and strategy is happening. In 2017, advertisers have realized that the reach of their own data is limited and have looked out for data providers that offer higher quality than the players they used to try in the early days of the programmatic advertising market. That advertisers instantly understood the source and quality of telecom data which could prove itself in numerous audits and countless campaigns has helped tremendously in kicking off a major movement. Our prediction: In 2018, telecom data will become an inevitable ingredient for any digital advertiser.

Apart from your own, which mobile companies are the ones to watch in the year ahead?

All the companies who help establish standards around data quality, standards for video campaigns to help traditional TV budgets move into mobile video and other measurement providers who help underline the value of mobile advertising.

Florian Lichtwald

SVP Global Telecom & Data Partnerships, Zeotap


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