Opting out of opt-in mobile ads?

Melissa Chua
06 May 2011

Opt-in mobile marketing may be the preferred mode of choice for many operators, but the very nature of the scheme has caused certain vendors to question its viability.

“Opt-in data is not good enough. Many customers say they’re willing to receive ads if they get perks like phone bill reductions, but do they really want the ads or are they merely after the freebies? ” asked Openwave director of products Christian Goswami at the Mobile Marketing Association Forum in Singapore.

GfK managing director of Fredrik Halberg said the market would continue talking about possibilities without real progress, if operators chose to stay with opt-in schemes. “Operators do believe they have enough data to target the right audience segment, but what they probably lack are the right tools to utilize this data.”

Malaysia-based Maxis is, however, adamant about the benefits of opt-in schemes. The carrier last year launched an opt-in scheme that has since garnered more than 2.9 million users. Customers get reward points for viewing ads and campaigns run have so far garnered favorable response rates ranging from 18% to 50%.

“It’s great if you can brand the program, and personalize it so users know it’s not spam or unsolicited. You can then build on subscribers’ profiles and preferences,” said Heather Wee, head of new media for Maxis.

The challenges associated with opt-in schemes lies in profiling opt-in subscribers, according to Joseph Alcazar, mobile advertising manager at Philippines-based Smart. This is a particular challenge in a largely pre-paid market such as the Philippines, where no registration is required during SIM card purchase. Smart’s mobile advertising arm lays claim to around 4.5 million subscribers, but just a million of these have been profiled.

Without proper profiling, customer engagement also becomes difficult, said Alcazar. “Campaigns should provide interaction with consumers, and that’s not quite possible without profiling.”

Whether mobile marketing is done via the humble SMS medium prevalent in emerging markets or through richer forms of engagement available via smartphones, Alcazar is of the opinion that agencies will not be capable of servicing the needs of all markets.

“You need to capture the long tail by engaging mom and pop shops as customers, these shops have direct relationships and affinity with consumers and may play a major role in a more efficient mobile campaign.”

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