Webaroo has formally launched its group messaging service called ‘GhupShup’ in India on May 22. With this, the company has also come up with a unique mode of generating revenue through advertising.
The service allows mobile users to form groups of any size and communicate with them. The messages sent by the group creator are forwarded by Webaroo at no charge to all the members of the group. Only a one-time payment has to be made by the creator of the group, which may contain end number of members. The messages to these members would not be charged at all.
“At the cost of just one SMS to Webaroo, other members would receive free SMS. These messages would deal with contents that the members are interested in and have chosen to join groups like Trade4gains, Techthat, Shaayri, Anagrams, Quotes, Page 3, BrnTzr, Bob Dylan, Cric Times or Guzzler, to name a few,” said Chirag Jain, Vice President-India Operations, Webaroo.
The service is at its initial stage and had started the testing process four weeks ago. “The response we are getting is tremendous. At present, the user population is 10,000, but we expect a growth of double this figure every week,” added Jain. The company would generate revenue from the advertising of products and brands targetted at specific groups and individuals interested in the particular product segment.
“This is not the kind of service that is prevalent at present to generate revenue. The cost of SMS is nominal and we are not getting a share of that. We would generate revenue from advertising, and not from SMS. The cost of SMS would not be more than Rs 3, depending on the length of the message. As of now, we have not started the advertising of products, which would be done shortly,” added Jain.
Explaining the mode of advertising, Jain explained that only those advertisers would be allowed to advertise among the group through SMSes who have the specific product line or the group’s interest. The company has also claimed that people are using the service to keep themselves well informed. Stockists are using stock market information to keep their investors updated, music lovers keep track of the latest album, while others discuss world cinema or housing society related information, and thereby disseminate the information among the group.
Explaining the future reach of the service, Jain said, “Every month, there are seven million new mobile phones users in India, out of which 75 per cent of them are those who buy basic mobile handsets costing not more than Rs 3,000. Therefore, the service can be used even by those who cannot afford a smart phone or a feature-enabled phone.”
The company also assured that all precautions have been taken care of to stop spam, provide privacy and filter contents. Advertisers would not receive phone numbers of individuals, nor would the creator of the group have the number of anyone joining the group out of choice. The group creator would have the mobile numbers of only those whom he has exclusively invited to join his group.