Jul 10, 2008

Business - OnMobile to play audio ads on mobile calls

Mobile value added services (VAS) company OnMobile has launched an audio advertising platform for operators. Called AdRBT (ad ringback tones), the service will play audio ads to callers when they dial a mobile number. In other words, when a person calls someone on his mobile, he will hear an ad while the phone is ringing. Interestingly, this ad will be based on the preferences of the caller, which OnMobile will derive from the caller’s mobile number. Therefore, every call made will lead to a different ad.The subscriber on whose phone the AdRBT is playing will have to give permission by subscribing to the service. In return, the subscriber will receive some incentive from the operator. OnMobile estimates that a subscriber receives 10 calls daily on an average. Explaining the concept to afaqs!, Debraj Tripathy, head of mobile marketing at OnMobile, says, “Subscribers may be gratified by operators allowing songs to play for specific callers, or they may get free SMSes and so on.”AdRBT will also allow callers to respond to the ad by requesting for more information by pressing a specific key while the ad is playing. For example, by pressing the # key, the caller can receive an SMS from the advertiser at the end of the call. “For now, the ads are being sold on an impression basis. However, as we work out how often people respond to AdRBT and to what type of ads, we will start making deals with advertisers based on response rates in about six-eight months,” adds Tripathy.The ads can be targeted based on the location and VAS usage of the caller. The VAS usage data gives information such as what handset the caller is using, whether he uses the roaming service, how often he travels abroad, the types of ringtones he downloads and the services he uses. OnMobile will also play ads in regional languages.Apart from choosing the profile of the customer, advertisers will also be able to specify the number of times they want their ad to be played in, say, a week or a month, says Tripathy. They can also specify how many times they want their ad to be played to a particular caller in a fixed time period. AdRBT will also allow for storyboard ads to be played. Therefore, each caller can hear a series of ads based on a story or concept. Though this is a good opportunity for advertisers, how will subscribers take to AdRBT? It’s early to say, but Tripathy says that research conducted by OnMobile shows that “subscribers think it is a good concept if the gratification is right”. Something similar to AdRBT was tried by Reliance Communications in January when it promoted the Reliance Power IPO by playing its ad as a caller ringback tune (CRBT) on most Reliance mobiles. This did not go down too well with the subscribers, who found it to be an unwanted service, without any incentive.Tripathy says, “What Reliance Communications did was a corporate campaign, where the same ad was played for all callers. AdRBT is different because it will play targeted ads with the permission of the subscriber.”OnMobile has also tied up with a network operator for AdRBT, but has not announced the deal yet.

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