Wednesday, February 25, 2009

TRAI - a facial for brands.

1st February 2009 onwards, TRAI has implemented a new policy for Mobile Marketers, Bulk SMS Aggregators and Operators to limit their previous 11 Character Sender IDs (For GSM Mobiles) to only 8 Characters now. The 1st 3 characters are supposed to be the Operator Code, the Circle Code, a hyphen and then followed by an Alphanumeric Sender ID up to 8 Characters. The already limited space for certain 'extra large' brands is even shorter now and has reduced the impact of Marketing Messages by upto 25% ina the consumer's SMS inbox. Although, abbreviations are well known in the 'SMS Industry' but most brands and companies find it difficult to digest.
TRAI's logic of implementing the policy is to basically keep a check and curb the menace of Unsolicited Commercial Communication. As in times before, if a consumer receives a Unsolicited SMS, he/she sees 'ABC' in the From Sender Identity. But now, they would see 'XY-ABC' in the Sender Id. If a consumer wishes to complain of receiving an Unsolicited SMS, they can simply call the Customer Support Helpline and narrate the Sender ID of the Sender - The operator then makes note of which Operator from which Circle is sending such SMS(es). The operator further scrutinises or rather penalises the Brand or Company which has registered the Sender ID.
I personally think, it is a brilliant way to curb UCC but at what cost? The consumer is now more or less immune to the marketing method with increasing Spam SMS's and even more & more brands adopting the cheap means of communication. I believe marketers need to be educated and given the moral responsibility of using such a strong communication tool with discretion so that it doesn't lose its very essence.