Enhancing Mobile Revenue through Advertising

Mobile network operators in the country have concentrated on voice services to generate revenue without looking at other avenues that can lift their revenue without much pressure on their capacity to delivery voice service.

This scenario could be explained by the late entrance of the country into the mobile communications world where much emphasis is laid on voice communications.

Mobile network operators in Nigeria today have the required technology to deliver short message service, video and picture messages. One then wonders why they are not exploring mobile advertising option to enhance their revenue base which invariable could help in driving down voice call tariff.

Mobile Marketing refer to one of two categories of marketing, first, and relatively new, is meant to describe marketing on or with a mobile device, such as a mobile phone this is an example of horizontal telecommunication convergence. Second, and a more traditional definition, is meant to describe marketing in a moving fashion – for example – technology road shows or moving billboards. However, this analysis is concentrating on the first definition of mobile marketing which has to do with using mobile phones as vehicle for advertising.

According to a survey conducted by a mobile marketing provider, approximately 89% of major brands are planning to market their products through text and multimedia mobile messaging by 2008. One-third is planning to spend about 10% of marketing budgets through mobile marketing.

Also, in about 5 years over half of brands are expected to spend between 5% and 25% of their total marketing budget on their mobile marketing. Already, 40% of the firms that responded have implemented this feature for their audiences. Strategy Analytics is forecasting that advertisers will spend $1.4 billion on mobile media this year, with that rising to $14.4 billion in 2011. eMarketer says mobile advert spending reached $1.5 billion last year and will grow to $14 by 2011.

What will and already has given mobile marketing’s attraction are: the ability to reach a specific target audience; information about how the user responded to a marketing message; and proof that a message has been received by the user’s handset.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek gathered that Nigeria marketing communications is worth over 4 Billion Dollars. Nigerian Marketing Association, Apcon said that the sector became vibrant with the liberalization of telecommunications sector which witness a boost as a result of operators use of the medium to reach their subscribers in one promotion or the other.

The association which is presently using television viewer ship mostly in their advertising campaigns is considering mobile marketing because television viewer ship is declining at a fast rate for some reasons, such as influx of cheap Chinese pirated movies, electricity failures, absence of prime time Tv shows and absence of national Television stations. Radio the association said has its own challenges too and outdoor is location specific.

According to a report by Apcon Mobile is the only meduim with anywhere and anytime advantage with possibilities to accommodate all array of features like video, Multi-media Messaging Service, pictures, Short Message Service , internet and among others. Mobile is more powerful personal meduim than any other. And it is time, that Nigerian Brands exploit the opportunity.Possible Channels

Marketing on a mobile phone has become increasingly popular ever since the rise of SMS (Short Message Service) in the early 2000s in Europe and some parts of Asia when businesses started to collect mobile phone numbers and send off wanted or unwanted content.

Over the past few years SMS has become a legitimate advertising channel in some parts of the world. This is because unlike email over the public internet, the carriers who police their own networks have set guidelines and best practices for the mobile media industry (including mobile advertising). The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Mobile Marketing Association, as well, have established guidelines and are evangelizing the use of the mobile channel for marketers. While this has been fruitful in developed regions such as North America, Western Europe and some other countries, mobile SPAM messages (SMS sent to mobile subscribers without a legitimate and explicit opt-in by the subscriber) remain an issue in many other parts or the world, partly due to the carriers selling their member databases to third parties.

Mobile Marketing via SMS has expanded rapidly in Europe and Asia as a new channel to reach the consumer. SMS initially received negative media coverage in many parts of Europe for being a new form of spam as some advertisers purchased lists and sent unsolicited content to consumer’s phones; however, as guidelines are put in place by the mobile operators, SMS has become the most popular branch of the Mobile Marketing industry with several 100 million advertising SMS sent out every month in Europe alone.

In North America the first cross-carrier SMS shortcode campaign was run by Labatt Brewing Company in 2002. Over the past few years mobile short codes have been increasingly popular as a new channel to communicate to the mobile consumer. Brands have begun to treat the mobile shortcode as a mobile domain name allowing the consumer to text message the brand at an event, in store and off any traditional media.

SMS services typically run off a short code, but sending text messages to an email address is another methodology. Short codes are 5 or 6 digit numbers that have been assigned by all the mobile operators in a given country for the use of brand campaign and other consumer services. The mobile operators vet every application before provisioning and monitor the service to make sure it does not diverge from its original service description.

Besides short codes, inbound SMS is very often based on long numbers (international number format, e.g. +44 7624 805000), which can be used in place of short codes or premium-rated short messages for SMS reception in several applications, such as product promotions and campaigns. Long numbers are internationally available, as well as enabling businesses to have their own number, rather than short codes which are usually shared across a number of brands. Additionally, long numbers are non-premium inbound numbers.

Marketing communications companies in Nigeria lately are using SMS to send advertising content to mobile subscribers evident is during governorship election campaign in Lagos state when one of the candidates used SMS to solicit for votes from Lagosians. Also so few weeks ago an Abuja base estate consultant used the same medium to advertise its property in Abuja.

One key criterion for provisioning is that the consumer opts in to the service. The mobile operators demand a double opt in from the consumer and the ability for the consumer to opt out of the service at any time by sending the word STOP via SMS. These guidelines are established in the MMA Consumer Best Practices Guidelines which are followed by all mobile marketers in the United States.

Mobile Marketing via Bluetooth

The rise of Bluetooth started around 2003 and a few companies in Europe have started establishing successful businesses. Most of these businesses offer “Hotspot-Systems” which consist of some kind of content-management system with a Bluetooth distribution function. This technology has the advantages that it is permission-based, has higher transfer speeds and is also a radio-based technology and can therefore not be billed (i.e. is free of charge). The likely earliest device built for mobile marketing via Bluetooth was the context tag of the AmbieSense project (2001-2004).

Location-based services (LBS) are offered by some cell phone networks as a way to send custom advertising and other information to cell-phone subscribers based on their current location. The cell-phone service provider gets the location from a GPS chip built into the phone, or using radiolocation and trilateration based on the signal-strength of the closest cell-phone towers (for phones without GPS features).

This has started happening in Nigeria, during Celtel rebranding to Zain, the company used Imaging Concept Limited a proximity marketing firm to send to its subscribers pictures of their new brand Zain at all the event locations organized for the rebranding.

Ugo Okoye, managing director of iConcepts Limited, said that introduction of proximity marketing into the mobile marketing industry will no doubt make a big difference in the way brands reach their consumers with tailor-made messages that suit their purpose. According to Okoye, for the first time, brands using proximity marketing technology can ensure that they reach their target audience at a time and place that puts their messages in a direct and relevant context to the consumer’s current activity.

“The ability to communicate with consumers based on their presence in a fixed time and place is one of the great features of proximity advertising technique as it makes it possible to access people at various points with tailor-made offers precisely to suit them,” he said.

Although, most operators in emerging markets are primarily focused on meeting rapid subscriber growth by expanding network coverage and capacity, as markets mature and revenue growth declines, operators will broaden their business scope. Mobile advertising could well make a useful contribution to their revenues.

Filed Under: Features

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