How Mindshare is lending a 'Voice' to brands for reaching media dark areas

Niraj Ruparel, National Head – Mobile, Mindshare India, shares the potential mSamvaad, a Voice-driven platform, holds for brands for connecting with rural India

e4m by Shikha Paliwal
Published: Dec 9, 2019 9:21 AM  | 5 min read
mindshare Voice

Most digital experts can’t stress enough on Voice technology as a powerful tool for a marketing plan for brands. When one thinks of Voice technology, the obvious inference is to Voice assistants and Voice searches, in a typical urban setup. However, for large parts of India, the internet or smartphones are still a distant dream, television penetration is low and feature phones are still the norm. Recognising this challenge, Mindshare India has collaborated with Cosmic Information and Technology Limited to launch a new voice-driven platform called ‘Audio Conferencing Bridge’ - ‘mSamvaad’.

According to the company, “The solution helps connect leading brands of the country to the audience in media dark areas on the largest voice conferencing infrastructure with a capacity of 25,000 concurrent calls.”

Most consumers have experienced brands or services reaching out to them on their phones via a pre-recorded message. This use of Voice typically has a one-way communication or allows interactivity with the phone’s keypad. Mindshare wanted to push the boundaries further to enable a two-way communication between the brand and the consumer and this was achieved using a simple feature phone connection.

Niraj Ruparel, National Head – Mobile, Mindshare India, explains how the idea was to break the barriers of communication that exist and alienate rural India due to challenges like low literacy and lack of access to data and connectivity. mSamvaad, he believes is a voice product which will help brands overcome challenges they face and connect them to media dark areas. He says, “The beauty of the platform is that you don't need internet on your phone. It is operator agnostic, it is device agnostic, it doesn't need internet and that makes it absolutely special.”

Niraj Ruparel
Niraj Ruparel, Mindshare India

The agency partnered with Horlicks to take the brand to rural areas in Bihar. The company wanted to roll out a nutrition awareness campaign for its new variant for children. An audio message, in the voice of Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan, was readied and mothers were called on their phones and informed that five lucky callers would be able to speak to Ravi Kishan and ask him nutrition related questions. A recorded message of the time and date and number to call was sent. Five callers were selected to ask their questions while the other callers could hear the interaction on their phones. Through a simple Q&A campaign, the brand delivered its message to its target audience.

Ruparel explains that the campaign had been running earlier but as a one-way communication using Ravi Kishan’s voice, however, mSamvaad has changed that. He further elaborated, “Bihar was the right market to launch this particular platform since people there have got device constraints, internet is not stable, and sometimes internet is not even there on the phone. They have been engaging with Ravi Kishan as a format through earlier campaigns in a one-way fashion but it has now become a personalized medium. Suddenly, you are on a panel live with him. It's almost like a live chat which you do, that’s what makes it unique.”

This two-way dialogue bore spectacular results with 4 million unique users, 29 per cent completed listenership and 81 per cent recalled the new variant for its emphasis on nutrient absorption in children.

The advantage of launching anything on telephony, explains Ruparel, is that it gives you better scale and Mindshare with its readymade infrastructure, backed by its partnership with Cosmic Information and Technology Limited, can support such large scale campaigns. He adds, “At a small scale anyone can do it. If I wanted a 2000 or 5000 concurrent line panel, anyone can create it but if you were to get 25,000 concurrent panel, you need to block that infrastructure, we call it SIP lines. So, 25,000 SIP lines are blocked with this product.”

He further said, “You need a partner who is focused on the telephony or the voice infrastructure so that is what Cosmic has done. They are the ones that have given us that level of capacity and confidence. We did a complete beta run on the product. It's a product which exists and very soon you will see some really dynamic campaigns.”

He points out that depending on a brand’s brief, the potential mSamvaad holds as a communication platform is huge but right now it is a rural engagement platform at scale. “If the face of the brand wants to talk to rural masses and have a dialogue like a Q&A, this is going to turn that into reality in the rural world as well, which was all this while a challenge.”

Ruparel, who is well versed with the market dynamics in rural India and has won a Cannes Lions metal in 2019 for Lifebuoy Infection Alert system, believes that mSamvaad’s strength lies in its ability to create personalisation at scale in media dark areas and at the same time gives power to those that live there to question and interact with brands, thus establishing an effective communication platform for brands and consumers alike.

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