Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bulk SMS MMS Banned

The Union Ministry of Communications & Information Technology last night directed all telecom operators and SMS Service Providers in India to Ban Bulk SMS & MMS Services for the next 72 hours ahead of the Allahabad High Court's verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suits which is expected to be given on 24th Sept 2010.

An official press release said the Ministry had issued orders in this regard in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs to all mobile telecom service providers and their partners in the country.

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.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

National Do Call Registry

In my recent posts, I have mentioned the 'action' and 'seriousness' of the Indian Goverment of the National Do Not Call Registry and the implications of the same. It is compulsory for all Telemarketers to register for this service and 'scrub' their lists before conducting Cold Calls.
The latest twist in the sad tale of Indian Commerce is that the Supreme Court of India (Apex Court) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has decided to move on to a "National Do Call Registry" where in people will opt in for receiving marketing calls and messages (UCC - Unsolicited Commercial Communication) from marketers and businesses so as to market their product - leaving a very small percentage of people in India who will opt in to receive such communication. Quite obviously the entire business fraternity, banks, telemarketing & call centres and the Telecom Operators have raised an objection not to implement any such Act or Policy since it shall deeply harm the economy in terms of:
Revenue - Telecom companies will not make money from Telemarketers & Call Centres
Business - Telemarketers will not be able to generate business from Cold Calling due to lack of data or even no data.
Growth - If there are too many such units falling down overnight,there is bound to be a fall in the economy over a longer period of time in a larger picture.

Further, if any such policy does get implemented then what is the next level or next alternative medium of commercial communication? How do you propose to reach out to new clients and grow your business?

Vodafone Talk More

Its been a while that Vodafone has entered the Indian Mobile Operator's market. Inspite of the company picking up, 'Hutchison Essar Group' at snail's pace that it was, Vodafone has managed to pick up speed. The international giant has hired one the best ad agencies in the country and has come up with absolutely ingenious marketing concepts ever made in the Telecom industry.
So to speak, the Indian Mobile Market is limited to Mobile Number Sales & Mobile Handset Sales separately - Airtel & Nokia/Sagem have made attempts in the past to make 'Packaged Deals' of handsets with special offer Prepaid SIM Cards, which honestly did not take off very well. Vodafone re-installed this idea in the market as the "Magic Box" comprising of a pretty handy and featured handset with basic Phonebook, Messaging and FM features, along with a special tariff plan attracting people to change more phones than only change or buy a new number. The campaign went on successfully with a mass approach to the common Indian man who cares more of what handset he keeps than the number or tariff plan on his number.
To top it all, Vodafone has recently come out with a campaign that promotes their Call Conference faility @ Rs.30/month. (Delhi circle). Not only does a mere Rs.30 add much more revenue to the VAS Sales but also the fact if one person calls the other, the 2nd to the on till there can be 5 or more participants (The limit is of 5 people on conference on one number incl the number owner) - The genius of this marketing is that by using Call Conference - Vodafone is actually multiplying their Sales of outgoing calls to friends by friends or business to business users. The chain here is practically limitless.
Further, keeping in mind that (or so I believe) that Mobile Operators have to bear a fee or submit a cost of terminating a call made from their network to anothers like Airtel, Idea, etc.
The intra call conference keeps these costs low so that people are encouraged to make V2V Calls more than to other operators. If you notice, this is why your own operator charges you lesses to make calls to the same operator as compared to making a local call to the network of another operator.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sex And The City Movie

The infamous series on HBO 'Sex And The City' gets a new face with the upcoming launch of it's new movie ' Sex And The City - The Movie'. An absolutely genius platform of cashing on an already very strong platform of 4 individualistic and like-minded women in New York. Not a very regular watcher but I can tell from the marketing strategy which is being promoted from the past 3 months in existing movie halls and theatres by means of BlueTooth Marketing (Pics, Screensavers, Trailers & Music), Outdoor & Print media and the very expected SMS Polls.
The SMS Polls has invited and entertained a database of more than 5 million women of USA who are intrigued and actively relate themselves to the series. Mobile Marketing has proved to be a phenomenol marketing-communication channel between the service provider & the service user. Further, let's hope that the launch allows Carrie with a whole new outlook and obviously many more episodes to come.

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.