One afternoon in December last year, All India Radio started playing an advertisement that asked listeners across Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to give a missed call on a particular number. As curious listeners called on the number, they were entertained and humoured with jokes and conversation between a husband and a wife. The jokes were laced with a message about HUL’s detergent brand Wheel. And even before the listeners knew it, they had begun to absorb the message.
While it is difficult to quantify how many listeners actually went on to use the product, people in the know term this project a huge success.
“The fact that they were asked to only give a missed call worked well with cost-conscious consumers. The listeners were the potential customers and this exercise was carried out in hinterlands where due to lack of other sources of entertainment, this actually became a huge hit,” said a person involved in the advertisement campaign, requesting anonymity.
The company’s website describes it as “one of the largest mobile activation schemes ever done by HUL. After three months of launching the full campaign in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, more than 5 million missed calls were received from 7.7 lakh unique numbers.”
Companies and mobile advertisers are fast waking up to the huge opportunity in mobile advertising, given the huge mobile subscriber base. As per Trai data, there were 904.23 million mobile phone subscribers in India as of October.
Taking a leaf from HUL, P&G has started using the mobile platform to push its product Pampers. In this campaign, mothers calling a particular number get to speak to an expert on issues such as teething, sleeping and eating related to their babies.
“This campaign was used in June and is still going on as the responses have been very encouraging. This has helped create brand loyalty among customers,” said a person involved in the campaign, also requesting anonymity.
Rajiv Dingra, founder & CEO of WatConsult, a social media agency, said companies across FMCG and entertainment sectors have started betting big on mobile advertising. “ It is not just to push messages. Companies are getting innovative by using more intelligent campaigns such as branded apps, missed calls and mobile video banners.”
This opens revenue possibilities for mobile operators, too. As marketers begin to realise the power of advertising via the palm-sized devices, their spend on the medium shoots up. Indeed, going by experts, the next leg could see even banking and financial services companies spending more on mobile advertising.
A report by Tata Consultancy Services says that an average global company will spend $13-22 million this year for marketing through mobile devices.