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,
- 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.
- 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. mgarlic.com (site no longer works)
3. sms2india.net (the site seems to be down)
4. admad.mobi (site no longer works)
I personally have received emails asking me to sign up for mginger.com. These emails are not from mginger.com but from users of mginger.com. Market news says mgarlic.com is a “me too” of mginger.com (the name for sure is a “me too”). Mginger and admad.mobi 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.