Dial ‘M’ for Mobile & Money!

30 May,2012


By Tuhina Anand


Bharti Airtel’s foray into mobile advertising or m-advertising opens up immense possibility in this space for a country likeIndiawhere mobile penetration is much higher than internet. Also the hand held device is something personal which many have the habit of checking frequently, hence the assurance that if a message is sent, the chances of it getting noticed is much higher.


There are players who have been trying to explore this territory for a while but the limitation has been that they are all third party players and would need support of a telco. With Airtel’s entry, this space will get the much needed fillip and advertisers a better medium of targeted advertising.


Airtel, being a leading telecom player, has the advantage of huge database and they can facilitate a targeted and customized communication for potential consumers. Mohit Beotra, Head, Emerging Business, Bharti Airtel Ltd, said: “Our perspective on mobile advertising is straight forward. We can help in targeting the right kind of customers based on the analytics. We have access to data that can help in increasing the effectiveness of a campaign. There is an opportunity for the marketers and our customers and we can help in facilitating that dialogue to reach to the right kind of people.”


He added: “While we would like to open eyes to the kind of opportunity that m-advertising has for the marketers, we would also like to help them in constructing effective campaigns for them on this platform.”


Airtel has a three-year deal with Mogae Digital, a company owned co-owned by Sandeep and Tanya Goyal, to be its sole and exclusive monetization partner. They will sell advertising solutions on behalf of Airtel and also drive marketing reach for the telecom giant. While it is estimated that mobile advertising will grow by more than 40 per cent in the next few years inIndia, Mr Beotra stated that these are merely figures floating around and one can’t surely put a number to it. However, he is sure that Airtel’s revenue from this venture would be significant in the coming years.


A recent example of m-advertising is the launch of Life OK channel by Star which allowed the channel to target the viewers just hours before the launch as the message flashed on their screens when one finished their call thus helping in targeting the right consumers in the right place.


Giving his take on Airtel’s move, V Balasubramanium, Chief Knowledge Officer & Director, Rainman Consulting, said: “It will be a catalyst for growth rather than re-defining m-advertising. It will help the m-advertising category to grow as telco companies can use the rich consumer behaviour insights they possess for an effective connect. As the effectiveness grow through their ablility to target the right consumer with the right message, then naturally more brands would flock in to this medium. This, I see, is a good start and I am sure the same will be explored by more companies. But the secret of success is how well you use your consumer intelligence from the existing data. Innovative analytics will thus play a big role for its success and that will be heart to success! As companies latch on to that then success is near the corner.”


Sharon Aneja, Director, Earned Innovation & Business Head West, SMG Digital pointed out that for any one who is into the business of brand building, the real handicap is lack of information. If one has data, then half the battle is already won. She said: “Today, there is a need to get people interested at various points of purchase funnel and the communication should not stop once he or she reaches the shop floor. M-advertising can help in getting people more interested in the product even before the purchase decision is made. By taking a lead, Airtel has taken the industry leader position and set a precedent for others to follow in quality messaging and point advertising.”


Ms Aneja feels that the move will open new doors, however the challenge is how one finds interesting ways to use that data. Having worked in theUKusing mobile advertising, she pointed that while the data protection rules are stringent there, the brands have used m-advertising to explore personalized messaging and targeted reach. She added: “I think in India, since it’s still the beginning of mobile advertising, one has seen a limitation in terms of offering which usually revolves around the WAP service. This however will change as technology comes into play. Also as the purchase funnel has changed, brands need to have several touch points to let the consumer experience and know more on the product. Something like location advertising would help on the mobile platform.”


“The real opportunity also lies with the untapped reach which m-advertising can open up. This will give brands and marketers unprecedented reach to communicate to rural consumers which hitherto has been a challenge,” concluded Ms Aneja.


Airtel’s m-advertising will be in compliance with TRAI regulation and would not reach those who have opted for DND. As Mr Beotra pointed that their customer base is huge and those on DND is not such a big number, hence in no way would those numbers affect the reach of Airtel’s m-advertising. However, the move has definitely opened up a new channel for advertisers who are pressed in today’s time to grab the attention of their consumers, both existing and potential in the cluttered market.

Imaging: Rafiq (images: Microsoft Clipart)


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