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AT&T thinks you might watch ads in exchange for a cheaper phone plan

AT&T is considering offering wireless phone plans partially paid for by advertising, CEO John Stankey said Tuesday.

“I believe there’s a segment of our customer base where given a choice, they would take some load of advertising for a $5 or $10 reduction in their mobile bill,” Stankey told Reuters. AT&T confirmed those comments to CNN Business. (The phone carrier owns CNN’s parent company, WarnerMedia.)

The new plan could come as early as “in a year or two,” he told Reuters.

While advertising-supported phones haven’t taken off in the past, despite efforts from Virgin Mobile and Sprint, AT&T said it has the advantage of better ad targeting. Ads will be tailored to customers identified across multiple devices, a strategy that could also help the company sell ads for more money, Stankey said.

Stankey told Reuters the company would also benefit from running an ad-supported version of the HBO Max streaming service next year.

AT&T’s advertising business called Xandr works with data outside of the company to tailor ads, but over the long term it could face legal scrutiny and privacy concerns over using that data.

Stankey told Reuters, “I don’t know if we can count on it in perpetuity.”

CNN

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