With mobile phones emerging as the most influential communication tool, several companies are realising the potential of this medium and have tested pilots for advertising. Airvoice Infocomm has devised an innovative way of voice advertising on mobile, where the subscriber can earn money for every ad he/she hears.
According to this innovation, whenever a person dials a number on his mobile phone, the phone instantly plays an advertisement for a stipulated period and then connects him to the desired number.
Unlike the pesky tele-callers, this service is not an intrusion into one’s personal time as it is subscription-based and offers several options to subscribers in terms of the type of advertisements they wish to hear, time in which they would want to hear, and also the option to skip an advertisement. What’s more, the subscriber is entitled to earn money for every advertisement he hears.
Expected to be launched first in Chennai in the early part of Q2 2008, Airvoice is confident of making a substantial dent in the mobile advertisement space. Its patented technology allows subscribers to listen to 10-15 second advertisements before connecting their desired calls. This is being made possible by integrating the mobile switching centers of telecom service providers with the high-end technology created by Airvoice, thereby allowing a smooth transition between the advertisement and call.
According to Frost & Sullivan, advisors to Airvoice, “India offers an unprecedented opportunity for telecom service operators, infrastructure vendors, manufacturers and associated services companies. India has already crossed the 250-million subscriber mark and as per Government targets, should be 650 million by 2012.”
Currently, the mobile advertising market in India is dominated by text-based messaging services. In 2007, industry estimates peg the total value at Rs 25 crore, and growing at a staggering 250 per cent. Airvoice, currently, has no direct comparison as it offers advertisements in voice and its technology model is completely different. This allows Airvoice to appeal both to the subscribers and clients.
R Ayyappan, CEO, Airvoice Infocomm India Pvt Ltd, Chennai, said, “Airvoice’s mobile advertising platform has been designed to benefit all the stakeholders. For Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), it will help increase their subscribers’ minutes of usage and also help focus on building relationships so that they can get a maximum share of subscriber spend. For advertisers, it is an innovative platform to engage with their prospective or existent customers. For subscribers, it is an opportunity to experience the next wave of technology. With a patented technology, we have ensured the elimination of competition in the market.”
He further said, “Airvoice will launch its product in phases. The pilot phase launch will be done in Chennai and Tamil Nadu. Expertise gained in each phase will be instrumental in developing further plans to expand. Within two years, Airvoice is planning to expand across India. Frost & Sullivan, the advisor to Airvoice, is in strategic alliance with Airvoice to develop the strategy.”
According to the Airvoice paid advertisement strategy, the revenue would be shared in three ways – Airvoice, the telecom service provider and the subscriber. The amount of incentives earned per advertisement by subscribers would be more than any other paid advertisement on mobile.
Ayyappan added, “Our primary aim is to create a mobile advertising platform which helps advertisers get more on their investments, makes TSP’s earn revenue over existing lines and satisfies the subscriber by giving him innovative content over voice. We believe that our technology and business model will fundamentally redefine how advertisements are served on the mobile. One of the reasons for delay in the launch was extensive study on preference mapping, evaluating business plan and understanding customer need to make this product consumer centric. The business plan was developed keeping in mind the consumer benefit and delivering better value to Advertisers and TSPs.”
Deepak Thakur, Research Analyst, ICT Practise, South Asia & Middle East, said, “In India, for mobile value added services to channelise this growth rate, the telecom industry has to fall in average revenue per user (ARPU). There is need for alternate source of income, personalisation of cell phones, subscriber demand, better technology, efforts to outdo competitor by providing service beyond calls and SMS. The MVAS industry is evolving and not fully developed compared to the western countries. There are several challenges MVAS will face that are unique to India, like regional languages, uneducated subscribers, penetration of technology, restriction to metro and towns, to state a few.”