Patents, social buying and creepy credit

Written by on July 22, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

buy buttonThe US is the heaven where Patent Lawyers long to go. Patents are stamped out on an industrial scale. Consultants and (some fairly determined) journalists spend large parts of their lives watching for interesting patents that may make some impact on the communications world. They keep a particular eye on patents with Apple’s name on them.

Two recent ones have caught their eye, one that is an advertising platform that offers customers products based on the balance of their credit card, the other an e-commerce and mobile advertising system. Two interesting patents, even more interesting combination.

Every social channel is beginning to, or is already, offering some kind of ‘buy’ button capability. As adverts (allegedly) become more and more targeted, then – the thinking goes – customers will be more and more likely to click ‘buy.’ Then the social channel can take a little of the commerce revenue as well as a lot of the advertising revenue.

As well as making the executives at eBay a little nervous, that Apple is producing patents in this area makes one wonder if this is a tipping point towards the Digital Service Provider (DSPs) taking over the whole eco-system – from advert to payment.

With brands realising the power of the DSPs and working to coral all the various channels to their customers into a cohesive whole, they are already forming strong partnerships. They know, because they pay the bills, that Facebook and Google are now the leading advertising platforms. They also know that both companies are investing huge amounts in the future of advertising.

What we also know, because the nice people at Juniper Research worked it out for us, is that the value of physical goods bought online or via mobile in 2014 exceeded $1.4 trillion. This, then, is a huge arena and one where Apple, with over a billion credit cards on file, could hardly decide not to play. Even if Apple decides not to take advantage of either of these two patents – it certainly does make products from every patent it publishes – there may well be others that are in the pipeline.

And whether Apple is planning to use customers’ data for gain, directly, which they have said they will not do, will become apparent. Whether they plan an offering based on available credit, which might work in some arenas, but many would find it creepy, intrusive and downright rude, that, too, we will find out.

The question – still – is where does this leave banks and network operators? The answer, sadly, is that it leaves them in the museum with the dinosaurs and cave drawings – unless they can add value to an eco-system they no longer control.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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