Mobile Advertising in India

With Mobiles becoming very popular in India, mobile portals are bumping into a problem which I had encountered a decade ago – how to monetize from this medium. The problems encountered in the web and mobile mediums are very different. Few points that come to my mind are,

  1. With the internet the penetration in India was far too low until 2005-06. And the internet was for the “elite” in India. Today the penetration is far better and the increase in usage of internet over the previous 12 months has been very encouraging.
  2. The mobile penetration in India is very high. You see literally every individual carrying a mobile. I joke with friends at times that babies will be born with folded “mobile ready” fingers in the future (to hold the mobile handset). The problem with mobiles is that the screen space is very limited (about 80 characters). You got to convey the actual message and your advertisement in that limited space. Also, Indian languages are not that well supported by all mobile handset vendors. The language support will change in a year as the mobile vendors see the real growth in their sales happening from Tier-II and Tier-II cities of India.

Mobile advertising is very attractive to advertisers. Mobiles are “constant” companions to us today. Your advertisement is almost guaranteed to be seen in a “reasonable” amount of time once the user receives it (sms ads). Check out the website of Mobile Marketing Association for some excellent information about Mobile advertising guidelines. Type of actions available for a mobile ad are,

  • Click to additional page inside the application
  • Click-through to WAP/web outside the application
  • Click-to-call outside the application
  • Click-to-SMS outside the application
  • Click-to-anything external to the application (e.g. click to make a call)
  • Combination of the above

In India we have a unique model. You get paid for reading advertisements on your mobile. Few names that come to my mind are,

2. (site no longer works)
3. (the site seems to be down)
4. (site no longer works)

I personally have received emails asking me to sign up for These emails are not from but from users of Market news says is a “me too” of (the name for sure is a “me too”). Mginger and have a professional look. Some the text you read on these sites may send negative vibes,

  • Get paid for reading SMS ads on your mobile.
  • Earn money for reading ads on your mobile
  • Earn even when your family or friends recieve ads. (reminds me of Amway, let us not get into that topic now)
  • Get 10 paisa for every ad your friends receive
  • Get 5 paisa for every ad your friend’s friends receive

Mginger has taken extra pains to start a blog explaining about the “myths” of making big monies. I think the blog adds to their credibility. Each of these sms advertising sites, I heard are claiming to have a huge user base.

I am not sure if I would want to spend money on such ads. Many users may just sign up to earn money and never read those ads. I haven’t come across anything similar on the internet. – i.e. you “opt-in” with an email marketing firm which pays you for receiving advertisements in your mailbox. Users would write a filter to move all emails from that marketing firm into Trash and yet get paid for doing signing up with them.

I haven’t signed up for any of these sms “earn big money” sites as I am afraid the “unsubscribe” option may not actually work 😉

What would “possibly” work?

To begin with I don’t think anyone knows what will work in the mobile advertising space in India. So if anyone claims he is a mobile ad guru I would take it with a pinch of salt. This space is in its infancy, which is sure to mature very fast. We are yet to see what the user’s response is going to be, based on which all gurus can crunch/slice the numbers.

Users are signing up with few sites/mobile operators for content (news, cricket scores etc). Check out MyToday, which allows you to sign up for many services by SMS. (Note: I have been associated with few of their content and technical modules). Adding an advertisement to the service gives additional comfort/confidence for the advertiser, i.e. the advertiser knows that I am an user who has legitimately signed up for a service and my main interest is in the content of the SMS and not the advertisement. Moreover, the end user is not paid for reading an advertisement, so the number of non-serious signs up should be significantly lesser than the other model.

  1. Advertisers should have a mobile friendly website and they should direct all traffic from mobile ads to this mobile friendly section. I must say I am disappointed with the big advertisers in India. They spend big monies on advertising on TV, internet, print but are not willing to spend a nominal amount in developing a WAP version of their site. They are clearly short sighted. By having a WAP version of their site they can measure how their ads are performing.
  2. Provide some discounts for users who respond to mobile advertisements. For e.g. give 10% discount if the user mentions some code. This code should have been exclusively used on mobile ads. Let us assume I call my friends and tell them to mention that discount code while purchasing from that advertiser, one can say my friend did not receive the advertisement and he should not get that discount. I disagree. The advertiser must be happy to see his “discount code” spreading thru viral marketing. All the advertiser should care about is seeing in increase in revenues.
  3. Include a phone number in the advertisement, which the user can call just by clicking (click-2-call). This can be very effective as the business for the advertiser is just one click away. In India people still want to “talk” to get the comfort level and click-2-call is a perfect way to go for mobile advertisers.

According to IAMAI and IMRB, as of November 2006 the market size of VAS (Value Added Service) in India is estimated at Rs 2850 crore. Mobile advertising is going to be big in India as it will ride on VAS.


  1. I don’t think that people who respond to ads on a mobile should be given any discount. They already have an unfair advantage over the rest — while an ad in print or on TV or some outdoor media is waiting to be delivered and read (mostly an act of chance and luck), the guy on the mobile already has the ad on his screen and can act on it faster — for limited offers, early bird offers and the like, this is ideal.

  2. This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title le Advertising in India. Thanks for informative article

  3. Amit Bhagat says:

    I have register all the sites mentioned since 24 june but not recieved a single add as they promose to get max of 10 adds daily. But I have got not a single upto 27th june. Are they fake of I want to know how they work.

    Durgapur (West Bengal )

  4. ajitpalsingh says:

    m-earn is another site which u can join.I have already started receiving sms.Got 2 till now.They r sending word of the day with the name of sponsor and yet paying us,U can join by clicking on link below.

  5. All of them have maximum (not minimum) ads/day limit.

  6. Having been with a telco operator and in the VAS space, I couldn’t agree more with Mahesh. The whole mobile advertising story is still in its infancy. There is no structured approach and the real money is in the Bulk SMS business which usually tends to get into the spam domain.

    Sites like mginger have an innovative approach, but credibility of the audience is in question. Will they really ever read the ad? I am sure a lot of under 20 somethings have signed up, but they are motives would be the money and nothing else.

  7. is out to send SMS advertising to your cellphone and you are more than eager. You get SMS ads of only those products that you want to buy and get them at your convenience. You also earn affiliate income by referring family and friends.Sing up now

  8. You may find the model of interesting. For the users they allow free IM, email and messaging from their mobile. In return the users are shown unintrusive ads on their mobiles.

  9. India’s leading mobile AD network

  10. With my experience in VAS space with one of the leading telecom operator and with the largest online portal in India, I still see that the basics have to be set right. Let look at the ARPU of operators- voice ARPU is falling, over APRU is also not increasing. Operators have been trying to push VAS since last 3 years, nothing worked. Its high time for them to look for altenate revenue mechanisms.
    Mobile advertising has the largest reach. Mobile is a pers device, a study reveals that more than 50% users sleep with their mobile on bed. Mobile advertising is not picking up because operators (who controls the reach) are not willing to relinquish their control over the subsribers.
    What ever exisiting as a mechanism to reach out users on mobile like a banner on wap site, a click to call, a test link on wap portal, sms footer are more than enough to reach to he user, its all about the way communication experts from the brands, media agencies and operators present the information to the user and how much cna you customize. LBS is not far away.

  11. Nayan M says:

    For Bulk sms Advertising log on to

  12. Hi All!

    To my surprise i found a new concept of DISPLAY BANNER ADS on mobile phones.

    NowPos Online Services is the company based at Hyderabad and providing this Mobile Media Solution.

    Its very innovative, intelligent and excellent concept. This service is available in Hyderabad at present and they planned to extend the services to all other major cities very soon.

    you can write to for details.

  13. Mobile advertising says:

    Hi Mahesh.

    You missed our product ZestADZ

    In India ZestADZ is a leading mobile advertising network. We serve text and banner ads to the mobile. Our vision is to make advertisers and publishers happy.

    for more details plz contact me



  14. One-fifths of the world’s cellphone users are currently in India.. Growing space, Organized will lead the future. Not even 1% users from total subscribers are in reach. with a 300-million mobile subscriber base and 100 million additions a year.

    Mobile ad Market Size is currently estimated to be just about Rs 25-30 crore in India.

  15. Yes, the market (consumer base) is huge for the advertiser. But do any of these Advertising solutions provide targeted advertising??

    For example, if I am Tata Motors wanting to reach prospective car buyers with offers and discounts, it doesn’t make sense to send an SMS to college kids. We need to reach targeted audience.

  16. Buy Mobiles Online says:

    Mobile advertising can be used for branding in India. Most of the mobile handsets are basic. Only a fraction of them support advanced features or web apps to support full m-commerce. However, with prices coming down, buyers may opt for those mobiles that have a lot of features

  17. Just wanted people to know of another offering ion the mobile entertainment arena. We just launched in india in may end. We are a complete entertainment portal with short video clips on bollywood, sports, music, factual, humour, and lots more. We provide content free to end consumer.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.