ASIA: Mobile devices may be increasingly ubiquitous but use of the mobile web in many regions remains constrained by the price of data, opening up opportunities for brands to boost their reach via sponsored data.

According to Gary Greenbaum, co-founder and CEO of Syntonic, a consumer and enterprise mobile platform, even in those developed markets where post-paid mobile data is abundant and relatively inexpensive, video and music services can still make a major dent in consumer data plans.

People in emerging markets, where pre-paid data plans are common, are even more acutely aware of the price of data and accordingly restrict what they do online.

"The fear of exceeding data limits on pre-paid data plans in Southeast Asia hurts consumers by limiting their access to content," Greenbaum told Exchange Wire. "It underutilises the mobile networks and impedes monetisation opportunities for application publishers and content providers."

His solution is sponsored data, which he said provided immediate value to some 2bn consumers in pre-paid markets where data is rationed, and to 4.3bn people who don't currently have the financial means to connect to the mobile internet.

"Sponsored data provides new ways for brands, sponsors, advertisers, application developers, content providers, and mobile operators to reach, acquire, engage, retain, and monetise mobile consumers," he stated.

Not only does it give marketers new ways to advance the customer relationship, he added, it does so "without modification to content, mobile applications, and the delivery network".

Greenbaum suggested that in pre-paid markets, such as Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia, marketers could use sponsored data to build awareness and acquire consumers, and also to deepen consumer engagement, increase customer retention and monetise engagement.

Regulatory issues in India, where sponsored data is restricted, make it harder to take the same approach but there are opportunities to offer the service via rewards and loyalty programs.

While bringing more people online clearly opens up a new audience for advertisers, Greenbaum saw that as "only a small component" of what was possible. He expected that sponsored data would be mostly used "to improve customer lifecycle management across the content and application experience".

Data sourced from ExchangeWire; additional content by Warc staff