Archive for April, 2009


April 27, 2009 Leave a comment

by Michael Switow, Guest Blogger

Shiok: A Singaporean English colloquial expression denoting extreme pleasure of the highest quality. Derived from either Malay or the Punjabi “shauk”.

Tak Shiok: The opposite of Shiok.

“What’s Hot, What’s Not? That’s the million dollar question,” TheMobileGamer CEO Alvin Yap told participants at BuzzCity’s Developer Garage and Marketing Roundtable. Identify the right trends – avoid the pitfalls – and you’re on the road to success. Well, to paraphrase Yap, here’s my Top Ten List from the event of what’s “damn shiok!” – and what’s not.

1. Shiok: Innovative Ad Placement

We’ve seen this in movies and television for awhile. American Idol judges drink from Coca-Cola cups. Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw writes her columns on a Macintosh PowerBook G3 (updated to a MacBook Pro G4 in the movie version). Mobile social networks are getting in on the act now too. At MXit*, advertisers create characters to interact with surfers in community chat rooms. A Robin Hood like figure called “The Bandit”, for example, gives away free “moola,” MXit’s virtual currency. Community members must first find The Bandit, then when they do, they’re asked a few questions about themselves and the advertiser’s product. Answer correctly and you get the virtual cash. The advertiser, meanwhile, gets marketing exposure plus new consumer data.

2. Shiok: Mobile Payment
Twenty-eight million people made online mobile payments in Asia in 2008, according to Alvin Yap. Japan and The Philippines are leading the way, but the biggest opportunity could be – unsurprisingly — in fast growing economies like China and India, where traditional banking is not keeping up with population growth and mobile usage is high. Asians, in general, Yap contends, are more receptive to mobile commerce, less wary of malware and other risks, than Europeans.

Singapore’s OCBC Bank, meanwhile, has released a mobile application that anyone can use, regardless of where they bank. Check foreign exchange rates, interest rates and more. OCBC’s consumers can also transfer money – a straight-forward menu listing the bank account details of selected friends makes this quick and easy to do. OCBC exec Yvonne Cheong says the service is making headways in the city’s heartlands. She described a group of aunties who regularly play mahjong and settle their accounts at the end of the game by making mobile transfers instead of paying cash.

3. Tak Shiok: Mahjong Debts that are so big, you must pay them by m-banking.

4. Shiok: Flat Rate Pricing
Whenever carriers implement straight-forward, easy-to-understand and affordable data charges, mobile internet usage goes through the roof. This has been a common theme through many postings on the GammaLife blog. Microsoft’s head of mobile services Chris Chandler, meanwhile, notes that in Indonesia he can get unlimited mobile access for about 50 US cents a day – much cheaper than going to an internet cafe.

5. Tak Shiok: Java (the programming language)
Every day when school lets out in South Africa, MXit’s Cliff Warren says MXit experiences upwards of 500 logins per second. Unfortunately, they found that Java becomes unstable around 400 logins per second. The company migrated their platform to C++.

6. Shiok: Java (the island)
This anecdote also comes courtesy of Warren. An Indonesian user posted an entry on MXit’s blog asking if MXit could translate their service into Bahasa Indonesia. MXit responded positively, introduced a local language version and, according to Warren, didn’t do any other promotion. Within a year, he says, Indonesia became MXit’s biggest overseas community, with more than one million users.

7. Tak Shiok: Fragmentation and Saturation

This one can be a big headache for mobile developers. A number of companies still have a “One Platform to Rule the World” mentality, but Yap says fragmentation is here to stay. Do you develop for Symbian, Google’s Android, Java’s J2ME, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, iPhone or all of the above? The prevalence of so many incompatible platforms makes application development more expensive and time-consuming.

Some developers prefer to focus on the iPhone, but that’s created a saturation issue. Applications are often priced at 99 US cents or offered for free – which makes it difficult for a newcomer to stand out.

8. Shiok: A Wireless Mobile Joystick

It’s like playing Wii, but on a smaller screen. Hold your phone in one hand, the remote joystick in another. Alan Chan of SBA Mobile Solutions showed me a helicopter fighting game. Move your hand — up, down, left, right – to fly the ‘copter and and press a button in front to shoot. The helicopter responded pretty quickly to my movements. The phone vibrates when you hit a target, though this feature suffered from a time-delay. It wouldn’t surprise to see gamers – particularly public transport commuters – embrace this new toy.

9. Tak Shiok: Advertisers who are scared to go first
No surprise that participants at a mobile seminar embrace mobile ads. Agency execs like Gosh Advertising’s Kelvin Tan note that the economic downturn is leading brands to switch more of their budget away from TV and print towards less expensive campaigns online and on mobile. But Tan says that the shift is occuring more slowly in Singapore than in his company’s European office because brands in the Asian city don’t want to be a first-mover. They also dread being last in their market to innovate.

10. Shiok: IM via Mobile Internet
Has SMS peaked? I don’t think so, but some Gen-Y surfers might, particularly in places where Mobile Instant Messaging is so much cheaper than SMS. In The Philippines, the average domestic SMS costs about one peso. An international SMS could be 15x that amount. The cost of a mobile IM? One centavo (= 1/100th of a peso). The cost of an international IM? Still one centavo. Plus you can see whether the person you’re messaging is online before contacting them.

(*Full Disclosure Note: MXit and BuzzCity have a common investor, the South African – based MIH Group / Naspers.)

Categories: Uncategorized


By Delynn Ho, Regional Director, Southeast Asia

An advertiser on the BuzzCity Mobile Network recently launched a campaign to promote a free music service. “Free MP3 Downloads” read the banner, which attracted 150,000 views a day and a 1.89 percent click-through rate. At first glance, these are great numbers. But the campaign experienced only a 5 – 7 percent conversion rate. Out of 20 people clicking on the FREE MUSIC! banner, up to 19 were walking away without closing the deal.

What went wrong?

Well, let’s take a look at what happened after you clicked the ad banner.

  • First, users were asked to answer a long series of questions. That’s turn-off #1.
  • Second, after answering the questionnaire, users were told to download an application. Not music, but an application. That’s turn-off #2.
  • Third, users now had to log off the internet, then launch the application and finally they could click on a link to download music.

So, of course, it’s not going to work well. First the banner created a false expectation that you could download music right away. And second, the user experience was just too unfriendly, too many steps involved.

Yet there are also several positive lessons that we can take from this example. Afterall, the campaign attracted a lot of eyeballs. So what did the brand do right?

  1. They launched both graphic banners and text ads. It’s a best practice to do both because some publishers only take graphics, while others only accept text. (Some sites publish both text and graphic banners.)
  2. They bid high. Advertisers bid on the price-per-click that they are willing to pay. The higher your bid, the more frequently your campaign banners will be shown. But they also didn’t bid too high. BuzzCity publishes a table in our online system with recommended bids, based on current supply and demand. (Currently, in South Africa, a high bid is about 30 – 40 cents per click. But South Africa is expensive relative to other markets due to high advertiser demand. An good bid in Asia Pacific might be 10 cents per click.)
  3. They checked the campaign settings regularly and kept an eye on the Recommended Bid in the market where they were running the ads. At one point, the recommended price per click dropped quite a bit due to a fluctuating market situation (other advertisers must have changed their bids). So the brand in this case was able to lower their bid, save money and still get the same good exposure.
  4. The campaign message was attractive. (Unfortunately, as we saw above, the user experience did not match expectations.)

In an example like this, there are three parameters for mobile advertisers to track:

  • exposure
  • clickthrough
  • conversions

Let’s suppose for a moment that the campaign was not getting good exposure. What to do?

Return to the auction page and raise your bid. Keep in mind that you can set your daily budget as well in order to keep expenses in check.

Second, examine your target audience. It could be too narrow. As Hisham described last month, there are a number of parameters that you can fine tune, such as content channels, time targets and phone type. If your target is too selective, you could be slashing the number of interested prospective viewers.

Now, let’s suppose that you’re getting good exposure, but not enough click-throughs. What to do?

First, take a look at your messaging. Is it attractive? This is not simply a subjective question. You can test multiple banners in the initial stages of a campaign and then weed out the low-performers.

Second, examine your target audience. (Sound familiar? : ) It could be too broad. If your ads appear everywhere (a broad audience), they might attract a lot of eyeballs, but not a high enough percentage of the right ones.


1. Double-check your campaign settings to make sure everything is set up correctly.

I know a client who meant to bid 11 cents per click, but accidentally bid $11. (Fortunately, their daily budget was low, so they didn’t lose a lot of money.)

Sometimes advertisers also screw up when they are launching several campaigns simultaneously. They link up banners with the wrong re-direct urls.

To help you sort out mistakes like these, the online advertiser interface shows you a summary of all settings after each submission. This way, if there is an error, you can correct it within seconds.

2. Test, Test, Test. It’s the best way to get a campaign right. And don’t be scared to make mid-course corrections. By the way, BuzzCity’s analytics – which can help guide you as you make adjustments — just got a great review on the MsearchGroove portal (a site that tracks mobile advertising, search and social networks).

Remember, optimising a mobile campaign is all about getting the most number of clicks for the least amount of money.

Categories: case study, Delynn Ho, How to


We’re happy to report that more advertisers are budgeting for and running mobile internet campaigns. According to the latest BuzzCity Mobile Advertising Index, the BuzzCity network delivered 8.5 billion paid advertising banners in Q1 ’09, an increase of 11% over the previous quarter.
The top 10 countries by the number of paid advertising banners delivered in each:

1. Indonesia: 4.4 billion (23% growth)
2. India: 842 million (16%)
3. United States: 527 million (38%)
4. South Africa: 428 million (-8 %)
5. Egypt: 162 million (8 % )
6. Romania: 161 million (9 %)
7. China: 130 million ( 67% )
8. Philippines: 125 million (8 %)
9. United Kingdom: 113 million (54 %)
10. Bangladesh: 112 million (-16 %)

Growth and usage of the mobile internet in the first quarter was particularly strong in China (67%), United Kingdom (54%), United States (38%) and Indonesia (23%).

The United Kingdom is in the Top 10 for the first time and joins Romania in representing Europe, suggesting an increase in off-portal activity and the prospect of more advertiser interest. Italy, Spain, Sweden and France all recorded double digit growth on the Q4 2008 figures.

Click here to download the detailed report.

Categories: index, report