MIAMI: Brands could benefit from using "sponsored data" programs to engage and empower mobile-phone users - just as Bradesco has shown in Brazil - according to a leading executive from Telefónica.

Dan Rosen, global director of advertising at Telefónica - the parent company of the Movistar, O2 and Vivo brands - discussed this subject at the Festival of Media Latin America in Miami.

He suggested that "sponsored data" efforts, where brands effectively foot the bill for consumers to access the mobile internet, hold considerable marketing potential.

"I think a lot of people have seen Maslow's 'hierarchy of needs', and basically how things like WiFi and battery life are becoming the centre of our universe," he said. (For more, including campaign results, read Warc's exclusive report: Bradesco's mobile play changes consumer habits in Brazil.)

"And some smart brands have actually started to sponsor connectivity - and sponsor phones being charged in airports."

By way of example, he cited a program from Bradesco, the Brazilian bank, which lets customers utilise its mobile site and apps for free having acquired data packages in bulk from the country's top mobile networks.

"Bradesco pays for the data when people use their app; the people don't. So they can go and use their data for something else, whether it's listening to music or whatever it might be," said Rosen.

And tapping into such a consumer passion point meant Bradesco reduced the average cost of handling these customer transactions, alongside giving account holders an equally welcome benefit.

"People have never been ... so hungry for data as they are today. And we can see, because we're a carrier, that over 25% - on average - across LatAm of people are coming to the end of their data tariff," he said.

"This means there is an unanswered need; there are people that are hungry for more data. And we think there's a big opportunity for brands to be able to provide relevance for their consumers by providing that connectivity. We think that connectivity can be the next universal utility brand experience."

Data sourced from Warc