The acquisition by My Mobile Data — trading as OVO Mobile — brings Australian venture capital firm OneVentures, Warner Music, Intel Capital and Citrix onto the OVO share register and, it is claimed, will establish OVOPlay as the world's most intuitive AI-driven mobile broadcasting platform.
Incoming Media's patented video engagement platform for smartphones is designed to provide solutions to media broadcasters and marketers struggling to maintain audience share and reach customers who are increasingly harder to engage through traditional channels.
The platform emerged from CSIRO's DATA61 artificial intelligence and machine learning research centre.
Recent trials of the platform in partnership with a US MVNO showed users were five times more likely to watch curated content through to the end, repeat watch and share that content.
OVO, which is focused on establishing itself as Australia's first media-centric mobile telecommunications company, says the adoption of Incoming’s video engagement AI and machine learning platform will deliver both a superior digital broadcasting experience for OVOPlay users and OVO's mobile subscribers, and an operating model that can be white-labelled for MVNOs in international markets looking to follow in OVO's footsteps.
In acquiring Incoming Media, OVO says it has secured global patents including a personalised on-device advertising selection and delivery system, mobile content delivery platform and low-power on-device machine learning.
OVO also becomes the first MVNO in Australia to employ three ex-DATA61 PhD data scientists, who will ensure the platform continues to evolve to meet the needs of users and OVO partners.
"By adopting Incoming's technology, OVOPlay is the most sophisticated mobile broadcasting platform, not only in Australia, but worldwide," said OVO chief executive Matt Jones.
"We've said from the start that OVO is for the fans. Our new platform will deliver them the content they want, where and when they want it in ways they've never seen before, without them having to share personal information, spend more data or chew up their device's battery life. For us, it will mean we can deliver curated sports and entertainment video content to our fans without them having to open an app or website, at a time and situation that suits each individual.
"This acquisition also changes the economics of our business model as a media MVNO. OVO now has more than 60,000 mobile subscribers, and more than a million people who have tuned in to content on OVO's digital broadcasting channels over the past year.
"With this deal, we'll be able to better commercialise our broadcast audience, while also reducing cost of transport of content for OVO subscribers and our partners, across the Optus 4G Plus Network that powers OVO mobile. We will also be able to deliver new and innovative subscriber plans down the track."
The acquisition of Incoming Media means OneVentures, which invested in the technology start-up through its Early Stage Fund, becomes a significant shareholder in OVO. Warner Music, Intel Capital and Citrix, which were all early investors in Incoming Media, have also received shares in OVO under the deal.
"OneVentures's interest is in disruptive technology plays, solving big problems with global market applicability. We invested in Incoming Media because we saw the shift to mobile as first screen for entertainment, the potential to change the way digital broadcasters, content owners and marketers reach and engage their audiences, and the effectiveness of Incoming’s technology to deliver this innovation," said One Ventures’ managing partner Dr Michelle Deaker.
"The acquisition of Incoming changes OVO from an MVNO with an interesting content strategy, into an innovative, disruptive technology play that can't be ignored by either media or telco sectors. It will enable OVO to deliver content much further beyond its mobile subscriber base, create new revenue streams and sell the model to MVNOs in other markets."
Dr Deaker, who recently completed an almost six-year stint on the board of Seven West Media, said the acquisition solidifies OVO's intention to establish itself as Australia's first true Media-MVNO, and provides OVO with more opportunity to release new plans, supported by sponsored content versus just subscription dollars, which is very disruptive to telecom companies.