Reuters recently released an exclusive article, quickly picked up by other news outlets, about a plan in the works from AT&T. The idea is that AT&T would serve you targeted ads on your phone. In exchange, they would reduce the cost of your phone plan. Would you do it? For me, it depends a lot on the details.
It Hasn’t Worked in the Past
According to Reuters, several different companies have attempted something similar. Going back nearly phone decades, Sprint’s Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and others have tried to put ads on phones. I wasn’t aware of this, which indicates how well it worked.
That said, I’ve also been an AT&T customer that entire time. While there are certain benefits to switching to cheaper plans, I’ve always been happy with my service. I’ve decided to stick with it even when there are cheaper options. So, if they decide to offer it, would I be willing to try it?
Considering the Cost of Advertising
If AT&T decides to do this (which might be “as early as next year), then they’re looking at possibly offering a $5 – $10 discount on phone plans in exchange for targeted advertising.
First, let’s discuss targeted advertising. This is the concept that your devices track what you’re interested in then feed you ads for things that you might like. Some people hate this idea and try to avoid it. Most of us aren’t able to avoid it entirely. If you see ads on Facebook and Google, chances are they’ve been targeted to you.
Okay, with that issue out of the way, let’s talk about the $5 – $10 offer. Is that worth it to receive ads on your phone?
I Have Some Questions
Here are the questions that I would need answered before I’d even consider this deal:
- Is that a monthly discount? (I presume it is.)
- How much advertising can I expect to see? How long will each ad be? When and how frequently will it pop up? In other words, how will these ads interrupt my use of the phone? And how long and how often will those interruptions be?
- How does the cost and amount of advertising change per phone on a family plan? (I actually am not on a family plan, so this one doesn’t impact me. Nevertheless it seems like it would be important for those who are.)
I Probably Wouldn’t Accept the Deal
I probably wouldn’t accept the offer, particularly if the deal is a $5 per month discount. I’m basing that on my experience choosing ad-free options on other services. I generally find it worth my money to pay extra to have zero ads.
For example, before I got a really good deal linking my Spotify and Hulu accounts, I paid extra for Hulu’s no-ads subscription. It was worth it to me because:
- I enjoyed the viewing experience significantly more without advertising.
- Advertising took up a whole lot of my time, and I wanted that time for other things.
- I didn’t want to risk spending more money because I saw things in advertisements that I then wanted to purchase.
Now I will say that if I’m playing phone games, I usually go ahead and use the free version. I don’t play phone games very often so I don’t find the ads that intrusive. It’s not worth it to me to pay extra for the ad-free experience there. But I do use my cell phone a lot. And if that meant regular interruptions by ads then I think my Hulu experience would tend to apply.
The Offer Might Be Worth It If …
When I ask myself what would make it worth it to me to go ahead and accept this kind of deal, it comes down to the value of my time and money. I might do it at a $10 per month discount. I’d almost certainly do it for $20 per month (which is not in their potential offer range). If it was only one ad per day at $5 discount per month, I’d probably do it (but this seems unlikely.) In other words, if I could justify that it wasn’t that much of my time or energy to get a decent chunk of money back, then it could be worth it.
It also might be worth it to if:
- You want to cut costs in every single way that you possibly can. (That said, AT&T might not be your most affordable phone choice in the first place, though.)
- If you want to save for something very specific, this could be a way to get that savings. After all, it’s $60 – $120 per year in savings.
- You don’t mind ads. Some people even enjoy getting paid to watch ads on their phones to earn extra income. If you’re that type of person then this might be a good deal for you;.
If AT&T makes this offer in the future, would you get on board and accept the discount in exchange for ad viewing?
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Kathryn Vercillo is a professional writer with more than a decade of experience writing about healthy living and personal finance. She lives in San Francisco, where she has learned to maximize frugal living tips in order to thrive as a freelancer in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. When she’s not writing, she’s exploring the city on foot with her rescue dog. Learn more about her at www.kathrynvercillo.com. Kathryn also writes about saving money with coupons over at GroceryCouponGuide.com .