World War 3G

Verizon Wireless brought out the big guns this holiday season.  In October, Verizon Wireless began to run its series of "there’s a map for that" television ads claiming it has 5 times more 3G coverage than AT&T.  But that wasn’t the end of it.  With the Motorola Droid being released in November, it also took a stab at the iPhone with its "iDon’t" ads describing what the iPhone can’t do, that the Droid can.  With the iPhone being AT&T’s top selling device, it was a one-two punch against Verizon’s main rival.

Anyone who watches television has not been able to avoid these ads from Verizon Wireless, so I looked into Compete’s clickstream data to see if prospect traffic and cross shop behavior have changed for Verizon Wireless in the past couple of months, as well as the past year.  First we will examine each carrier’s prospect traffic.  Prospects are defined as visitors to a carrier site who do not show any customer behavior on the site during the month.

Change in Prospect Traffic AT&T and Verzion Wireless

  • Year-over-Year prospect traffic the Verizon Wireless website saw a 48% increase while AT&T’s website saw a 7% decrease
  • Verizon Wireless saw a 15% M-O-M increase in Prospect traffic from October 2009 to November 2009 while AT&T experienced only a 4% increase
  • In November 2009, Verizon Wireless saw 25% more prospects visiting its website than AT&T, but in November 2008, AT&T had 28% more prospects than Verizon Wireless

The prospect traffic volumes give us a good starting point for where potential customers are shopping and it seems as though Verizon Wireless has been able to pull an increasing number of prospect shoppers its way.  Not only has it been attracting more prospects, but it has also had an increasing number of AT&T pre-churn shoppers, meaning the number of AT&T’s customers visiting the Verizon Wireless site.

Change in Pre-Churner Traffic AT&T and Verzion Wireless

  • Both Verizon Wireless and AT&T were able to attracts an increasing number of each other’s pre-churners Y-O-Y and M-O-M
  • AT&T’s pre-churners visiting doubled from November 2008 to November 2009, while Verizon Wireless’ pre-churners visiting AT&T"˜s website saw a 50% Y-O-Y increase.  AT&T may have had a smaller Y-O-Y increase than Verizon, but the volume of Verizon Wireless pre-churners visiting AT&T’s site in November 2008 was much higher than the volume of AT&T pre-churners visiting the Verizon Wireless site, due in part to interest in the iPhone
  • AT&T’s pre-churners visiting saw a 26% M-O-M increase compared to a 7% M-O-M increase for Verizon Wireless’ pre-churners visiting AT&T’s web site
  • AT&T seems to be attracting an increasing amount of Verizon Wireless pre-churners, but Verizon has been able to catch up in the last month, pulling slightly ahead of AT&T.

Verizon Wireless’ attack ads have clearly gotten AT&T’s attention, as we can see in AT&T’s advertising response.  AT&T fired back in November, releasing its own series of advertisements focusing on the speed of its 3G network.  In addition, Apple has joined the fray by releasing ads showing the iPhone’s ability to surf the web and talk on the phone at the same time using the AT&T network, something the Verizon network cannot do.  While AT&T and Apple have both produced countering ad campaigns, AT&T has also recently announced its intent to improve network performance in New York and San Francisco.  Verizon Wireless was able to get the first punch, but AT&T certainly isn’t standing idly by and it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months.