Marketers around the world have seen a rapid change in the annual marketing plans with inclusion of social media and mobility solutions. The rapid rise of applications, social media platforms, messaging solutions, content and interactive services have pushed the expenditure on traditional media (print & TV) to a lesser extent. In a country like India where the democracy adds more than 15 million telecom subscribers every month, we have already recorded more than 791 million telecom subscribers out of which more than 550 million belong to the urban populace and the remaining form the rural India on the telecom map. The numbers are very encouraging for telecom and VAS companies which have most importantly found the place in annual marketing plans of most of the bigger and small companies in the industry.
The rapid rise in the number of interactive services (Special numbers) such as 57575, 52525, 58888 to name a few have added value to marketing activities which hover around voting, contests, alerts, information services, lead generation etc. These numbers are technically called Short Code, are of 5 digits and registered with all the operators across India. Another addition to the interactive service is Long Code (10 digit mobile number) which is technically called Global Virtual Number (GVN). A GVN is similar to mobile number and connected across all telecom operators and can be either SIM based solution or an operator activated number.
Typically end users like us are charged between INR 1 to INR 3 per message for sending message to a Short Code number and as per SMS plan subscribed with the operator for messaging to a GVN number. For content downloads such as ringtones, wallpapers, video, games etc. the amount charged per message can vary from INR 6 to INR 50 or more depending on the price set by the company in conjunction with telecom operators. These numbers are shared numbers and KEYWORD based. For e.g. SMS BAL to 57575 where BAL is the KEYWORD and 57575 is the Short Code. The numbers also allow companies to customize marketing initiatives as per their needs through KEYWORD routing which allows automating the response message for the end users. An automated response message is received upon sending message to these numbers. However, in a GVN an automated response has to be integrated using an Application Protocol Interface (API) messaging solution.
For marketing purposes, some of the uses of these special numbers could be
- Lead Generation (Capturing information of the customer)
- Locator service (Retail Store locator, ATM locator, Branch locator etc.)
- Voting for contests (As seen on Zee, Sony TV for voting on reality shows)
- Content Downloads (Ringtones, Wallpapers, Applications, Video, and Games etc.)
- Brand Awareness activities (Quiz on products, services etc.)
- Mobile Validation (validating IMEI numbers for handset manufacturers)
There could be number of additions to the marketing initiatives that designed around Short Code or GVN numbers and orchestrated around specific requirements of the particular company. The volume of business that is generated on these numbers through Caller Ring Back tones, Ring Back Tones which under falls music category is worth around INR 70 billion in India followed by Infotainment (news, updates, alerts etc.) at INR 50 billion. With the advent of 3G in India and the expected number of users would increase to 400 million by 2015 and the demand for streaming video’s and Video on Demand (VOD) would increase manifolds. Airtel is expected to be leader in the 3G space with 18% market share followed by Reliance at 15% and BSNL at 13% by 2015. (As per the study conducted by Wireless Intelligence Agency). The declining blended Voice ARPU around the world would as well help the more frequent and innovative use of these special numbers to add numbers to the top line of the telecom companies.
As the focus around the world shifts towards use of telecom infrastructure, esp. MVAS and new age digital media, we would definitely see many more integrations and multi-utility of these infrastructures to enhance customer value and brand image of the companies.
Image Courtesy: Google Images
This post was originally published in 11 April 2011 on http://alokr.blogspot.com
Alok Ranjan is a marketing specialist and management consultant based in Mumbai, India. He believes, brands are caught in a maze of technology and economic dynamics, caused by disruptive forces, which are changing the way consumers interact with brands. Alok advises brands to shape consumer centric strategy and assists to develop a roadmap for businesses.