Monday, March 31, 2008

National Do Not Call Registry

24 April 2007: The Government of India proposes a bill to introduce the 'National Do Not Call Registry' (NDNC) service in India - where consumers can register with their respective operators and will be listed in a Do-Not-Call registry where it would be illegal if any of the numbers receive a Telemarketing call or SMS or better known as UCC (Unsolicited Commercial Communication). The bill was passed in Q4 2007 and re-enforced by the means of Newspaper & TV Media that any such miscreant or UCC activity can cause the operator/telemarketer a fine of upto Rs.500, subsequently Rs.1000 and further cancellation of license. It was truly brilliant to offer consumers the comfort and peace of not receiving the pesky Loan, Mortgage, Credit Calls anymore But why was SMS included in this??? The only effective channel of Direct Marketing left in India is - SMS Marketing. If the Government has placed a 'blanket ban' on receiving any UCC, then it makes SMS also illegal, ineffective and will become inexistent soon.
Statistics say, Mobile Phone users (urban + rural) are increasing @ 8% a month and the NDNC registration is increasing @ 5% every month. Implies that sooner or later the rates will fluctuate and everybody will be registered with the NDNC. It is totally wise to do so but then what happens to the 'Mobile Phone being the ultimate gadget'? This idea has been harvesting since long in the minds of marketers that Mobile Marketing would have taken over all means since the mobile phone will be your Credit Card, Car Key, PDA/Organiser, Web Browser, GPS, etc; the one tool one would carry everywhere. As far as business is concerned, Mobile Marketer's only hope is the 'Alerts/Reminders' services like of Banks and Non - UCC services.
Although, there is one more viewpoint which is totally opposite this understanding - if Users are getting registered in the NDNC and the sole target, which needs to segmented further, is Non NDNC registered people - Mobile Marketers can SPAM them like crazy. If word gets out (which just might given by the number of readers of this blog) SMS Marketers will start taking Mobile Campaigns simply spamming anyone who is not on the list - which will further provoke people to get registered in this list.
Conclusively, there isn't a way out - SMS Marketing will soon die unless the Govt of India gives recognition to Portals, Handwritten documents or Forms where the mobile phone user has given permission to receive any such updates from the particular merchant. Given by the speed of functioning of the Indian Govt, mobile marketers would be selling mobile phones to survive by then!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mobile Marketing in India takes a U-turn

Remember the likes of sms based advertising models where you register free to receive SMS's from 'advertisers' and earn money, etc; namely, m gingur, adcadmobi, etc... There seems to be another player in the market who is trying to make this loss-stricken idea into a beneficial one. The company '160by2' claims to give you the ability to register for free, earn money for receiving SMS's from their advertisers but the new marketing strategy that they have adopted is that users (like you and me) can use 80 characters to Send Free Messages to all mobile numbers India and the next 80 characters will contain an advert from one of the advertisers of 160by2 company.
Unfortunately, what the promoters have seemed to ignore is the reason why earlier business models like these failed - Ding Dong! MGingur and the likes, did mass marketing and advertising with a lot of ( I repeat a lot of ) word of mouth marketing which ended up approx 5 lac users being registered. The limitation of this model is that most advertisers (in India and the world) seek information of people or to target people who have reasonable disposable income and are willing to spend it. But the data collected in these campaigns or the people targetted by SMS marketing are of the nature who want to make money by collecting a few paise (smallest unit of the INR) would not be the kinds of to either have reasonable disposable income nor be willing to spend much. Nevertheless, this segment of people are quite good for targetting goods like Coke, Chocolates or items of not much monetary value. On the contrary, not many (or maybe not at all) of these type of companies would be interested in promoting their products by Direct marketing methods like SMS Marketing. Wake up and smell the coffee guys.