Vodacom’s foray into mobile advertising

Blogging from PublishOnline in Cape Town…

Graunt Kruger who works for Vodacom’s mobile advertising department had the audience at the conference gasping at the big numbers and big strategies. Graunt disagrees with me, but Vodacom — who are now Online Publishing Association members — are looking more and more like a media company these days.

Here’s the irony, Vodacom is one of the biggest advertisers in the country. But now the tables have turned as they are now accepting advertising on their mobile site, which attracts a big local audience of around 1,4-million monthly users and more than 16-million page impressions (according to their own stats).

Mobile media advertising in SA worth R1,5-billion in 2011
He says that mobile should be positioned as an independent medium on the same level as TV, radio, print and not just be seen as a subset of the internet. This is something they are going to push for. He says that AMPS (auditing body), which does not see mobile as a separate medium, say that there is cellphone useage of around 60% in South Africa — which frankly is hard to believe. The more believable figure comes from Vodacom itself which estimates there is more than 90% mobile penetration in this country. Maybe it’s somewhere inbetween?

In an excellent presentation, Graunt put up figures from eMarketer.com which estimates that global mobile advertising will be US$13-billion by 2011. In South Africa he estimates, using a few deductions from the eMarketer figure, that mobile media will be worth around R1,5-billion in South Africa by 2011, and about 4% of total local advertising pie. He said that according to eMarketer, 89% brands plan to use mobile marketing in 2008 and nearly 1/3 plan to spend in excess of 10% of their marketing budget.

This new mobile advertising division of Vodacom was only recently set up, around about April 2007. Graunt also says that Vodacom isn’t really focused on taking advertising from the internet… why? Well, he says its “too small”. Vodacom have their sights set on gaining market share from from TV, radio and print.

Graunt also said that advertising on their mobile portals perform with a clickthrough rate of more than 2.5% plus, which is good. They do frequency capping for their adverts, but not with cookies, but looking at cellphone numbers to identify uniques. Vodacom also serve mobile ads that users can click on that generate callbacks to your phone. It’s pretty much in line with Google’s new mobile adsense offering which features a “call me” link in the mobile environment.

Vodacom also sell ads on their “Please call me” service which includes SMS and USSD, which Graunt says shows to more than 2,4-million users daily. Citing a case study, he said one campaign got around about 100 000 monthly responses, generating 60 000 leads and a “good conversion rate”.

Vodacom looks at social networking
He also spoke briefly about the cellphone network’s plans to create a location-based social network called “The Grid”. It makes sense because Vodacom, by virtue of the contact you have with the land-based cellphone masts, knows where where everyone is.

What’s next for Vodacom?
– Ad-funded content in ingame advertising
– Mobile internet search, probably with Google (Graunt was cagey about the details)
– Vodacom radio
– Mobile TV

Matthew Buckland: Publisher


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