M1 CEO Neil Montefiore explains to group editor Joseph Waring why advertising will be a big revenue generator and why the broadband experience is going personal for the youth market
Telecom Asia: Last October you trialed location-based ads and quickly went to a commercial launch. What did you learn‾
Neil Montefiore: The trial was very successful, which was why we went straight into a launch. The two key things we took out of it was that we were amazed at the actual take-up that the advertisers, the retailers, got. We were also surprised at the rejection rate. Of the customers we sent unsolicited messages, only 0.2% pressed the button to say 'I don't want to get any more.' That's fantastic.
And the retailers were just as impressed. An ice cream stand on Orchard Road tripled it sales in the afternoon they tried it. They had 500 sales instead of the normal hundred-and-something.
It certainly shows the impact of the advertising. What was the hook‾
The people selling the advertising, which is Singapore Press Holdings, insisted the advertisers have to offer a very tangible benefit. One of the department stores, for example, offered 20% off if you come in this afternoon. It's quite a big benefit. And the ice cream retailer also offered a discount. We recommend somewhere between 10% and 25% benefit for the customer.
We also recommend that they think about the timing. 'What time do you want to get that traffic in you shops‾' Coffee shops are very specific on that, and they know they are very busy at certain times of the day and actually don't want customers coming in. So they are very time specific.
So it wasn't just branding.
No branding. It was all tangible offers. The take-up rate impressed the advertisers and the rejection rate impressed us. We we're quite worried that there would be a high rejection rate.
And how does a mobile operator sell this kind of advertising‾
We partnered with the newspaper publisher, Singapore Press Holdings, and we share the revenues them. They already have the relationship with the advertisers through the print media. So they will deal with them, and we'll just do the network side.
What ad formats are you using‾
We started out with just doing SMS, so its very simple text. The next stage would be offering slightly more sophisticated messages. So it could be MMS, it could be push messages so you can have a link in it and you can then click on a link and go to more details about the offering. But the first stage is very simple.
What are the hot topics that you are seeing among mobile operators‾
I think advertising. There's been a lot of hype about advertising.