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What BT's new consumer group mindset means for the BT, EE and Plusnet brands



BT has brought its BT, EE and Plusnet businesses under a new consumer group built to offer seamless, next-generation broadband, mobile and wifi packages and services.

As a result of the restructure, the group's mobile, broadband and content strategies have shifted, as have its plans for smart homes, family plans, streaming partnerships and services – all of which has been in the works since BT snapped up EE for £12.5bn in 2015. Leading the news is the development of the BT Plus platform which will bring together the distinct bundles onto a single bill.

The Drum spoke to Pete Oliver, managing director of marketing and sales at BT, and Max Taylor, managing director of marketing at EE, to learn what the reboot of the BT business means for the future of the company. They were speaking just days after the company shed 13,000 of its 80,000 strong UK workforce and announced it was moving away from its London HQ.

The BT, EE and Plusnet brands were collectively brought under the auspices of Marc Allera, chief executive of BT consumer brands, last year as the first step towards a "convergence" of services.

Oliver said: "We've got three great marketing teams and we've seen that this is a great opportunity to improve the way people get connected to the internet." Each brand will remain a distinct entity, however. "We have seen that the customers of each brands want different things.

"You don't see this multiple brand approach in telecoms very often. BT customers are a little bit older, they want high quality and reliability, but don't need the latest thing; EE are more tech savvy and want the latest iPhone, and Plusnet's role is to attract value customers, without the bells and whistles."

Each group will retain their identities and the creative agencies that provide their individual tone of voice. There can be savings made in the media buying space, however. "It doesn't make sense to have the brands make their own media planning rule, we have one team that does that," said Oliver. All of the group's buying will continue to go through GroupM's Essence.

What will be communicated in three separate marketing campaigns will be the group's coming together and the resulting services and features.

A big pillar of the move is a renewed investment in customer services. Oliver said: "We recognise that BT customer service has not always been as good as it should have been." As a result, by 2020 all of the group's call centres will make a marked return to UK and Irish shores – something he noted consumers were hungry for.



EE's customer service solutions on the other hand are much more on the tech side. The company is introducing augmented reality assistance through its app. Customer service advisors will be able to assess and assist with broadband setup and trouble shooting without visiting the site. The app also features remote assistance so the individual can diagnose network problems.

Outside of the home, and away from the digital space, Oliver underlined proudly that BT is making its way back to the high street through EE which has around 620 stores across the UK. Following a pilot, the plan is to integrate the BT brand into these stores – much like Dixons Carphone or Curry's PC World have done.

Oliver said: "Customers don't find it confusing. They are quite used to seeing multiple brands in the store. BT customers, according to our research, value the option of going to speak to people face to face. People can come in and try all this stuff, which is quite new for home broadband and TV, no one is doing that at scale."

There is also space for other relevant brands to come into this retail space, he added.



On the content side, as BT is also a significant TV broadcaster as well as a telecoms firm, Oliver admitted there has been a disconnect between TV and digital platforms, something that has been a barrier to entry for some users. He claimed he would often use Now TV through his games console because he couldn't do it through BT's platform. "Why am I watching this through a games console?" With the new product he assured: "We will be the only people to solve that problem."

To that end, BT has bolstered its TV package by partnering with Amazon Prime Video and Now TV which will be available through BT's platform, a big coup after it many years ago became the first European broadcaster to put Netflix on a set top box.

On this hunger for content, Oliver said: "We recognise there are big channels some people want – like BT Sport – but we are embracing the fact that people want to watch shows on Netflix, people are talking about shows like Stranger Things, Narcos, Man in the High Castle, these are not on traditional channels and people want a way to view them."

Speaking at MWC in Barcelona, BT Sport managing director of strategy and content, consumer Andy Haworth revealed that content is vital to selling on the broadband and mobile products. "Half of our customers were buying TV and broadband together [so] as the number one broadband provider in the UK, not having access to or being credible [in TV] was going to create real structural challenges."


Max Taylor, managing director, marketing at EE, remarked that the EE brand is only five years old but having grown to dominate the mobile market, it comes into this group convergence from a position of strength.

From day one, EE was tasked with innovating the market and targeting a different customer segment from BT, something it will continue to do. Chiefly, this will be through its new comms platform 'Who Says You Can't'. An ad coming out in June will feature brand ambassador Kevin Bacon, alongside comedian David Mitchell and a handful of monkeys.

Taylor said: "We will continue to use this playful but purposeful tone. We are innovating and creating a unique proposition that we will bring out to market in that typical EE way."

The drive will focus on EE's family mobile packs. Those on the package can elect to share data with each other, a dynamic that will most probably flow from parents to children. But the wider campaign is not just intent on influencing consumers, instead it is to signal internally that mobile is a thing of the past; the next battlefield will be the converged market of mobile, wifi and smart tech.

"This is a mindset shift in the whole organisation as we challenge ourself to do more across all these new categories," said Taylor. "It is an external and internal comms campaign."

On the media side, there will be changes too. It will still lean heavily on social – something that rivals Three and Vodafone are going doing. However, it is all happening below the line. As a mobile network, it makes sense for the company to "dial up" its personalised SMS or next-gen RCS messages – some of which will feature video.

"As we expand into multiple categories we face challenges with the most appropriate product or proposition to recommend to customers at any moment in time. So we have made a massive investment in our martech capability around CRM and digital deployment, we are one of the biggest below the line communicators in the UK.

"We currently have about half a billion messages being sent every year. We see that number increasing to a billion in the next few years."

This drive will help to deliver "personalised, relevant communications" about the many new products and services, most of which are documented below.

New products

At an event in London today (16 May), BT unveiled a whole new line of products. This comes in addition to launching BT Plus, which will offer all the services mentioned above in the one bill. The company is looking to make the move from mobile to wifi seamless and make both work with each other by 2022.

Whether that is free mobile data during a home move while waiting for broadband set up or unlimited mobile data during a broadband outage, or mobile working in tandem with broadband at peak times during sluggish service, BT has a whole suite of products coming. The third prong in this approach is that it will boost its public wifi spots to 12,000 units.

EE has made a marked move towards the smart home, for which it wants to be the retailer of choice. It boasts that it will be the first UK network to support all of the major smart home ecosystems across tech like smart cameras, thermostats, sensors and lighting – providing options for customers whether they prefer Hive, Google, Apple Homekit or Alexa smart home ecosystems.

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Data Protection Magazine: Millennials are different, or so they say



Data Protection Magazine is a newly launched magazine offering thought-provoking pieces designed to help the business generalist with their task of data protection compliance. It aims to shed a light on the key issues.

In the first edition of the magazine, editor, Michael Baxter looks at whether millennials really do have a different attitude to data protection. Here is a snippet of the article titled ‘Millennials are different, or so they say’:

“The generation born in the decade or two before the end of the last century, or so we keep hearing, have a different way of thinking.

Take their attitude towards personal data. A study by the USC Annenberg Center for Digital Future and Bovitz Inc found that 56% of the millennial generation would be willing to share their location with a nearby company in return for a relevant coupon or promotional deal. By contrast, only 42% of users of 35 years and older agreed they would share their location.

Jeffrey I. Cole, the director of the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future said:
“Millennials recognise that giving up some of their privacy online can provide benefits to them. This demonstrates a major shift in online behaviour.”

But is it really like that? The millennial generation and their youngers, generation Z, are what they call digital natives – they are digitally savvy.”

To view the whole article and the rest of the magazine, visit the Data Protection World Forum website.
By Laura Edwards, editor, GDPR.Report

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Key takeaways from Mark Zuckerberg’s European Parliament inquisition



Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg continued his atonement tour yesterday (May 22) with its latest stop-off at the European Parliament where he faced (at times heated) questions from members of the Brussels-based assembly. The Drum highlights pertinent talking points for media observers.

Under continued public scrutiny given the revelations over foreign interference in elections, fake news, and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, faced his interrogators in the European Parliament yesterday (May 22).

Zuckerberg remains resilient under (sometimes) terse questioning from MEPs

Today's pre-cooked format was inappropriate & ensured #Zuckerberg could avoid our questions. I trust that written answers from Facebook will be forthcoming. If these are not accurately answered in detail, the EU competition authorities must be activated & legislation sharpened.

— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) May 22, 2018

Some had hoped the extent of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) would be a harbinger of Zuckerberg receiving a more testing time than his earlier Congressional appearances in the US. Although ultimately, these hopes were not met. Critics, including the assorted elected representatives, argued that Zuckerberg’s testimony consisted of hackneyed stock answers that have formed his long and varied ‘mea culpa’ since the extent of the Cambridge Analytica hack first emerged in March. This included the regurgitation of recent measures including limiting access to Facebook user data to third parties. “Let me be clear, keeping people safe, will always be more important than maximizing profits,” Zuckerberg told attendees. Despite some tense moments, Zuckerberg emerged largely unscathed, with the Silicon Valley titan resorting to some familiar tactics under questioning from Members of the European Parliament (MEP), with Facebook now set to return answers in writing. Among the ongoing concerns include queries over the separation over Facebook’s different services, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, plus “shadow profiles”, with Zuckerberg promising to provide written responses in the coming days. Although this response was not met with universal acceptance (see Tweet above). “Will you allow users to escape targeted advertising?” pressed one MEP. “I asked you six ‘yes or no’ questions and I got not a single answer, and of course, you well asked for this format for a reason.”

Some politicians claim they are feeling the pain almost as much as publishers over Facebook’s algorithm update

My message to Mark Zuckerberg today: Stop telling us Facebook is a “platform for all ideas”. The evidence shows your algorithms censor conservative opinions. — Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) May 22, 2018

Some MEPs went on to highlight the differing social attitudes towards freedom of expression between the US and EU, but it was UK MEP and arch Brexit-er Nigel Farage who stole the show in this line of questioning, quizzing Zuckerberg on Facebook’s status as a “politically neutral platform”.

He specifically honed in on Facebook’s algorithm change dating back to January 2018, which demoted posts by businesses, brands and media outlets. The one-time UKiP leader and vocal Donald Trump supporter then went on to allege that the changes were politically motivated in the wake of the success of both electoral campaigns in 2016.

“What is absolutely true is that since January of this year you changed your modus operandi, you changed your algorithms and it has led directly to a very substantial drop in views and engagements for this that have got right of center political opinions,” he said.

Zuckerberg denied such allegations adding that Facebook remained unbiased and that it was a “platform for all ideas” adding that the algorithm change was specifically engineered to help surface content from friends and family in its users’ Newsfeed. “We made a number of changes this year to make sure that we’re showing people’s friends and family and community content more than public content in general,” he added.

Questions remain over ‘shadow profiles’

#Zuckerberg avoiding @SyedKamall’s question ⬇️

He says #Facebook needs to collect non-users’ data for security. No answer on whether they can see what’s collected, delete it or if it’s used commercially.

Who needs Interpol when you have Zuckerberg?#ZuckerbergHearing

— Conservative MEPs (@ConMEPs) May 22, 2018

Some MEPs pressed Zuckerberg on “shadow profiles” whereby the social network is able to track users around the internet even if they are not a registered user on the social network with UK representative Syed Kamall asking Zuckerberg how non-users can stop the social network collecting their data.

“What do you do with this data, do you commercialize it? And if you do that is it morally acceptable?” he asked.

Zuckerberg responded by reminding attendees of its “clear history feature” but did confirm that such tracking was an activity it engaged in, albeit this was motivated by the need to protect the data of its registered users.

“It’s very important that we don’t have people who aren’t Facebook users coming to our service and trying to scrape the public data that’s available,” he said.

“So one of the ways that we do that is that with people who use our service even if they’re not signed in we need to understand how they are using the service to prevent bad activity.”

However, this response was likewise not met with some frustration with some alleging that he attempted to avoid such direct questions (see Tweet above).

Facebook is reminding politicians of its EU investment amid growing speculation of antitrust action

Show me entity :: 20282

The growing public scrutiny of Facebook, as well as its ‘duopoly’ stablemate Google, comes amid growing speculation that the pair will be subject to more antitrust action, with some asserting that the upcoming GDPR laws were motivated by EU politicians seeking to disrupt their market dominance.

However, in his prepared remarks, Zuckerberg was keen to underline the extent of Facebook’s investment in the EU, including how its platform helps bring voters to the polling booths that may otherwise have abstained from the electoral process.

“I am determined to keep building tools that keep bringing people together in meaningful new ways while we work to address our safety and security challenges as well,” said Zuckerberg.

He then went on to reiterate the extent the job creation Facebook has generated across the EU’s member states, with the social network on course to employ a workforce of 10,000 in 12 European cities by the close of the year.

Zuckerberg later went on to underline how the UK housed Facebook’s biggest engineering team outside of the US, the extent of its artificial intelligence research in France, the data centers it houses in Ireland, Sweden, as well as a third offering planned for Denmark due to open in 2020.

“We will continue to invest in Europe in the years ahead, we’ve committed to providing 1 million people in small businesses with digital skills training by 2020,” he added.

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Bloomberg wins big at The Drum Online Media Awards 2018



Bloomberg has scooped the Grand Prix at The Drum Online Media Awards 2018, for it's work on TicToc. It's also won the Editorial Innovation of the Year and Social Media Team of the Year categories. Bloomberg's TicToc is the first global news network built for Twitter. It provides 24/7 coverage of breaking news, live events and top and trending general news.

Judge and editor-in-chief, HuffPost UK, Polly Curtis said: "TicToc is a beautifully simple idea that allows Bloomberg to be at the heart of the conversation, in a distinctively Bloomberg way. The design shouts Bloomberg, which telling the audience it’s doing something different. The use of Twitter is novel and appropriate. Exciting to see that there is still innovation on platforms we think we all know."

OMA 2018 TicToc

The team behind TicToc are: Catherine Taibi, head of social and audience development, New York; Claire Obusan, regional lead for New York; Owen Franks, regional lead for Hong Kong; Maggie Day, regional lead for London; Alex Gittleson, senior producer for weekends, New York; David Meyers, executive producer for breaking news and live events, New York and Mindy Massucci, global head of content.


Another big win of the night was BBC World Service English, scooping Outstanding Digital Team of the Year. Digital editor, Anna Doble and her team put social video, animated audio and a raft of new podcasts at the heart of the BBC World Service English digital mission when creating the bold and ambitious strategy.

Sponsor of the category and member of the judging panel, Bill Hagerty, co-chairman of the British Journalism Review said: "Good innovative ideas saw the site repositioned to attract a totally new demographic, targeting young females and widening its audience all within a year. The judges especially praised The Assassination, a stunning investigation into the murder of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto."

Video of BBC World Service English | Digital video


CNN's 'People for sale' won the Breaking News Story of the Year award. In November 2017, published an exclusive multiplatform report exposing slave auctions in Libya for the first time. Journalists Nima Elbagir, Raja Razek, Alex Platt and Bryony Jones uncovered never-before-seen footage of an auction in Libya where people were being sold for as little as $400 each.

Judge and Channel 4 News editor, Ben De Pear said: “'People for sale' was one of the most shocking and extraordinary stories of the century; slavery in the digital age, recorded by cameras and exposed by the brave reporting of CNN.

"It had a massive impact across the world and revealed a dark and cruel world of misery corruption and cruelty. It is the worthy recipient of this award.”

CNN OMA 2018


Other winners include: The Details' Steven McCaffery for Editor of the Year, Al Jazeera English for Video Team of the Year, The Times for Best Commentary/Blogging, Guardian News and Media for National News Site of the Year and Vice UK for Content Creator of the Year.

The award ceremony took place on Tuesday 22 May 2018 at the Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel, London. For a full list of the winners, please click here.

The awards will be back for 2019, register your interest now.

Partners of the event are: British Journalism Review, and the Press Association.

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