Not once while inventing cell phones must have Martin Cooper thought that the small little missed call function will become a communication language in itself someday. While worldwide number of missed calls implies different messages, in India one missed call is used to convey various pre-decided messages to loved ones.
Characteristics such as no cost implications and handiness have made missed calls not only a communication of convenience but also a marketing tool which uses mobile for larger reach and reduced cost. While there have been missed call services such as ZipDial and support campaigns for Anna Hazare that used missed calls in the past, the service is now used by broadcasters for voting in their reality shows.
Tring Tring – the game changer!
With the advent of missed call to cast a vote, the dynamics of voting seem to have changed drastically. According to a survey conducted by Mobilox Innovations, 37 per cent reality show viewers said that they vote regularly for their favourite contestants. About 30 per cent of the respondents vote every time just for the love of voting and 21 per cent of the surveyed reality show viewers voted for the first time this year (post the arrival of missed call voting).
“Missed call voting per say, cannot be generalised to reality shows but in fact finds tremendous utility in gathering quality public opinions. Missed call voting comes with a clear objective; to maximise brand – viewer engagement. As per our survey, it was revealed that viewers found SMS voting tedious and expensive. All this means that missed call has changed the way the audience votes,” shared Abhijit Saxena, MD and CEO, Mobilox Innovations.
Further into the survey, the voters were asked whether they had ever participated in a reality show voting but not through missed call. 66 per cent admitted that they had never used any other medium to register a vote in comparison to 33 per cent who had experimented with SMS voting before.
Zee TV was one of the early adopters of missed call voting and implemented it in its shows such as Dance India Dance and DID Lil Masters. “When we pioneered the missed call mechanism with Mobilox, it was with the intention of being the front-runners who not only wish to seek more viewer participation but also take steps in making that viewer participation the most convenient for our consumers. The number of votes grew more than 10-fold,” said Akash Chawla, Marketing Head, National Channels, ZEEL.
Taking the research one step further, respondents were asked whether they preferred missed call voting over SMS voting. About 86 per cent supported missed call voting.
“We were bringing back one of our most popular shows Nach Baliye, and wanted to ensure that we have a voting tool which will be convenient and easy to engage for the viewers and also robust enough to handle the millions of votes which would come in,” said Nikhil Madhok, VP – Marketing, Star Plus.
Of the 86 per cent of the people who supported missed call voting, 48 per cent supported it since they found it easy, 37 per cent supported it since it was free and eight per cent found it very convenient. However, 10 per cent people preferred SMS voting since they have a perception that they can also pass comments to their favorite participant.
Sangeetha Aiyer, Vice President and Head Marketing, A+E Networks ITV18 shared, that ‘The Greatest Indian’ received almost 1.8 to 2 crore votes; thus, stimulating consumer engagement to a new level.
According to Vishwajeet Sukhija, Director Innovations and Marketing, Mobilox Innovations, this year, apart from entertainment channels, a lot of news channels are also expected to use similar innovations around missed call voting, especially for taking opinion polls during elections. “This can be a big game changer in the manner in which people express their opinions and that too for free,” he added.
How does it work?
While the missed call voting is a boon to viewers who get convenience, it implies higher cost to broadcasters as they are charged on the basis of the technology used to create the service. There are initial set up charges which can be followed by variable charges depending on the services.
Critics have often pointed out that validity of a missed call is not as much because it could be an error call or result of a prank. However, Sukhija points out that a missed call portrays stronger intent as every contestant has a nine digit code that has to be dialed to cast the vote. Also, missed call voting eliminates the age barrier that was experienced in SMS voting.
Viewers have grown way beyond their role of passive content receivers; they now consume, contemplate and counter-act to everything.