SFR Gets Personal with Pontis Platform

David Murphy

SFR is a Vodafone subsidiary, and the second largest mobile operator in France. It is also a major player in the French economy, with 10,000 staff, 18.8 million subscribers and revenues in excess of €9 billion (£8.1 billion). The company prides itself on its innovative approach and places a strong emphasis on developing new services and high speed networks to keep it at the forefront of technological innovation.
Today, the French mobile marketplace is as competitive as ever and the challenge to maintain customer loyalty and satisfaction from mobile content is significant. At the 2005 GSM World Congress in Barcelona, a chance meeting with Pontis, which offers a personalised approach to the marketing of mobile services, set SFR on the path towards a new level of personalization of mobile content offers via its WAP portal. 

The challenge
The marketing team at SFR had been searching for a way to create more personalised, targeted marketing offers to boost the selling of a variety of mobile content via the company’s WAP portal and to increase customer satisfaction. Following a competitive tendering process and technical evaluation phase in 2006, Pontis, in partnership with Capgemini, was tasked with creating and implementing a solution that would enable targeted marketing activities to be planned, launched and evaluated, based on actual subscriber behaviour and known preferences and interests. 
For SFR’s marketing team, the fact that Pontis was able to provide marketing templates like ‘Buy One Get One Free’ (BOGOF) and ‘Happy Hour’ - familiar retail-type marketing paradigms, which made it easy to understand and apply - was especially appealing, especially with the capability to deliver real-time online banners. Another key factor which swung opinion towards the Pontis solution was its ability to monitor and track usage on content partners’ sites. Since all  the content links on the portal redirect the user away from the SFR portal, this was a mandatory requirement, and one which Pontis was able to accommodate. 
In April 2007, the Pontis Marketing Delivery Platform (MDP) went live to SFR’s entire WAP browser population (apart from a 10% control group for comparison purposes). Its introduction meant that the SFR product management team was able to develop a series of marketing campaigns based on a subscriber’s actual usage patterns.  For example, it can now segment non-users, low-users and high-users of a service such as ringtones, and develop a series of targeted offers to entice users to download more ringtones. 
Since April 2007, the results of the new, personalised approach to promoting a variety of different services, including ringtones, games, music, video and adult content, enabled SFR to launch and manage a large portfolio of marketing offers. Using the MDP desktop improved the workflow process and time to market.

According to Nicolas Oyarbide, CRM Product Manager in charge of the WAP portal:
“The improvement in the take-up of various offers has been as high as 20% for some campaigns, with improved usage giving more than 10% revenue increase. Revenue improvement has been most pronounced on new services like video clips, where awareness is particularly key to improved market penetration. For services like these, we have seen a doubling in usage. For more mature products like ringtones, the impact has been to maintain demand which would otherwise tend to tail off as they reach the end of their lifecycle.” 
Another area in which the Pontis MDP has made a dramatic difference is in the area of banner ads.  Being able to deliver personalized, relevant banner ads on the portal was one of the key elements that drove the success of the WAP marketing initiative. According to Oyarbide:
“The WAP portal is really our shop window, and it’s important that we are able to use the space efficiently to deliver the most relevant offers to each subscriber. If a customer is a high consumer of games, but has shown no interest in ringtones, it’s more sensible to give gaming promotions a higher profile on the portal for that user.”
The Pontis solution is able to determine the most relevant offers based on usage patterns, and position a banner advert that is most likely to appeal to the customer, and place it in a prominent position on their individual portal. For Oyarbide, who is keen to gain the maximum traction from banner ads, the Pontis solution helps him to prioritise the different services and also have the ability to monitor and change banner ads on a daily basis, based on real-time statistical analysis of clickthrough rates. 
Since deploying the service over a year ago, the Pontis MDP has become a central component of the marketing activities of the WAP team. The MDP supports SFR’s marketing activities and goals to increase ARPU, as well as giving the product marketing team the flexibility and freedom to launch a multitude of different marketing campaigns quickly and cost effectively, and to react swiftly to competitive offers or new opportunities as they present themselves.

Future plans
Plans for the future include providing an upgraded platform, which will increase the capacity of the system and enable it to monitor additional off-portal traffic such as sports, videos, chat and logos and MMS via the portal.
Plans are also afoot to deploy Pontis across other SFR sites, and to use it to deploy SMS campaigns and promote SFRs own messaging services to its users. Says Oyarbide:
“The Pontis MDP give us real-time CRM, which offers us the insight to see what works and what doesn’t and (to) be able to respond speedily to different marketing conditions. Prior to deploying Pontis it would take us weeks to be able to plan and deploy a new marketing offer, now we can do it in a few hours. The system is a real winner for SFR - as we can see from the increased ARPU and customer’s loyalty. But it also works for our customers, who only receive relevant offers and – since the mobile phone is such as personal device – this means that they get to hear about promotions that are most likely to be of interest to them.”