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Industry approves Airtel’s foray in m-advertising

01-June-2012
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Industry approves Airtel’s foray in m-advertising

After Bharti Airtel announced last month that it is cutting down prices of its 3G mobile data services by about seventy per cent, the telecom provider also announced its foray into the mobile advertising (m-advertising) segment in India.

The move to cut down 3G mobile data services is to boost usage of the premium services in the country, whereas entry into m-advertising is to equip advertisers to reach out to their potential customers.

Elaborating on the opportunities that Airtel will provide brands with its foray into m-advertising, Mohit Beotra, Head – Emerging Business, Bharti Airtel said, “Our m-advertising platform is designed to meet all the essential demands of advertisers such as inventory management, campaign management, reporting and analytics. We will equip advertisers to connect with their potential customers in a targeted and personalised fashion via their mobile internet (WAP), messaging services and Airtel digital TV. Consumers want relevant advertising as that helps them to take informed purchase decisions. This service will be provided in conjunction with partner Mogae Digital.”

While mobile advertising is not a new proposition in the Indian context, it is perhaps for the first time that the medium has received the much-needed attention. However, many believe that it is yet to garner its dues in terms of attracting a large chunk of marketing spends. One main barrier to mobile advertising in India is slow adoption of smartphones. With low cost smartphones booming in the handset industry and Airtel's move of bringing down the prices of it 3G plans, it is indeed an attractive proposition.

Madan Sanglikar, Chief Executive Officer, AD2C gives a thumbs up to Airtel’s new advertising window. He said, “With increasingly demanding consumers, the stakeholders in the ecosystem are aiming to provide an enhanced user experience through better access, interaction and content. While one goal is to develop applications to engage consumers and advertisers, the other is to cater to the crucial area of handset compatibility. The current eco-system of mobile advertising in India and this move of Airtel will defiantly create a platform that everyone else will follow.”

Airtel’s move will not only create opportunities for increasing brand saliency but also conversions using technologies such as mobile couponing for segments such as youth, upper SEC, smartphone users, etc. With this platform, companies can also extend access to the rural audience with voice solutions.

Sanjoy Chakrabarty, Managing Partner, Zenith Optimedia shared, “Mobile advertising will create an opportunity for advertisers to uniquely target customers and prospects through a new, highly interactive channel. The high, engaged attention level that the mobile receives from its consumers makes it an attractive media for brands and advertising agencies to integrate into their media plans. It creates an attractive opportunity of incremental revenues for mobile operators through individualised content and increased data usage.”

Challenges ahead
Chakrabarty believes monetisation and prizing will be the biggest challenge for the medium. If service providers are able to give clarity on these two factors, the overall spend across brand categories in the medium will significantly go up in next few years.

One of the biggest challenge in implementing personalisation and sharp segmentation in mobile advertising is to get access to subscriber information. “Maintaining our customers’ confidentiality is of immense importance to us. Our state-of-the-art backend systems are programmed to ensure that the analysis culled out is not even visible to people internally,” said Beotra.

“Moreover, our platform complies fully with the TRAI guidelines. Once created, these usage and behavioral trends are shared with the advertiser subsequently, basis preset requirements. It then helps them reach out to the right audience at the right time in a streamlined and less intrusive manner as opposed to existing ways of communication,” he added.

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