Archive for September, 2009


September 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Delynn Ho, Regional Director, Southeast Asia

BuzzCity champions an open mobile internet. Over the past couple years, we’ve written several times about how mobile carriers should not build barriers that restrict users to the carrier’s portal or make it difficult or prohibitively expensive to surf other sites. User preferences are clear. In countries where carrier “wall gardens” have been lifted, mobile surfers access a wide range of content, both on- and off-portal.

So what’s a telecom carrier to do, particularly if it wants to be a content provider as well as a communications pipe?

Advertise, of course! Compete like everyone else for consumers’ attention! So this week, I’d like to share an example of a carrier that is doing just that.


South African mobile service provider MTN is now advertising on other sites to sell value-added services and attract users back to its portal. The MTN campaign, produced by ad agency Aquaonline, promotes MTN Music Bundles and Music Price Plans. The campaign messaging is straight-forward:

“30% off MTN Music” reads the graphic banner. 
“Are you a music lover?” asks the text ad. 

Click on either advertisement and consumers are directed to MTN’s portal. There, users can register for free music or subscribe a value-added paid service.


The campaign averages 4.7 million exposures a month. That’s a great number. In fact, it’s about 6 percent of all monthly mobile ad views in South Africa.

The campaign’s click-through rate is about one percent, compared to a 1.9% network average. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, one of the best ways to raise the CTR is by using multiple banners and not relying on a single ad.

In addition, I would advise MTN to launch separate campaigns for each product line or service. They’re selling two things here: music bundles and music price plans. Different segments of the market will be attracted to each item. Music lovers of all types might go for the bundles, but bargain hunters in particular will click on the price plan promotions, which start as low as 10 rand (about US$1.34).

Similarly, the sale of other products – games, virtual gifts, wallpapers, etc – will fare better with specified ads, rather than a single campaign directing everyone to the same portal.

MTN has a market share in South Africa of about 33%. If it were to advertise solely on its own portal, MTN would miss two out of every three potential consumers. Now, that doesn’t make much sense.

Even market leader Vodacom can reach just one out of every two mobile surfers via its own portal.

With broader ad campaigns, telecom companies can reach their competitors’ clients, either through targeted advertising or by publishing ads across the entire BuzzCity network. There’s a lesson here for other businesses as well – don’t limit your reach by staying within the confines of a single online community or portal.

Categories: case study, Delynn Ho

Commentary: WSJ and Niche Content

September 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Rupert Murdoch has announced plans to start charging mobile readers of the Wall Street Journal. Before the end of the year, people who access the WSJ on Blackberries and iPhones will pay US$2 per week. Mobile access to the journal would cost a dollar a week for subscribers to the newspaper.

At BuzzCity, we applaud moves by print media to mobilise their content. New applications meanwhile make it easier to package content for mobile devices and improvements in the handsets themselves – such as larger, clearer screens – make it much easier to read.

So what’s still missing here ?
The announced plan merely entices exiting subscribers and does little to engage new users. Newspapers and other content producers need to engage mobile readers at a local level with niche content because readers want customised, local content.

We’re not simply talking about weather reports and sports scores, but alerts for road closures, local restaurant deals, theatre listings, etc. Actionable information like this opens the way for local advertising and classifieds – which means more targeted results for advertisers, more relevant content for readers and happy users all around.

Categories: Comments on the News


September 15, 2009 Leave a comment

By Delynn Ho, Regional Director, Southeast Asia

Nichaphat Rojratanasap , a mother of three in her 50s, used to run a restaurant . . . before she found her calling in the fortune-telling business. While she’s not famous, Khun Nichaphat is quite popular in her local community and with her clientele – all of whom consult her over the phone.

Some choose to have a tarot card reading; others ask for their horoscope. Fortune-telling is an intricate part of life for many in Thailand and the “Maw Du,” as fortune-tellers there are known, can help you choose the best date to get married or even buy a car.

Khun Nichaphat is a new-comer to New Media, but she’s already quite pleased with the positive impact her mobile campaign has had on business. Banner ads promoting her live divining service link to a landing page. From there, users can contact the soothsayer directly. Just click on the link to dial a 1-900 pay-per-minute number and Khun Nichaphat’s phone will ring.

The ads receive about 10,000 views per day and she’s getting a click-through rate of 0.5% (compared to the 1.2% network average).

From a sales and analytical perspective, there are a few things to note about this campaign:

1. The business does not currently have a website or mobile site. It is making use of BuzzCity’s free landing page to essentially create a one-page mobile presence.

2. Unlike traditional media ads, this mobile campaign is part marketing, part sales. The success of the initiative can be measured not only in views or clicks, but in actual sales conversions.

3. The advertiser has prepared a single banner and single text ad, which could be one reason the click-through rate lags behind the network average. As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life . . . and in advertisting, variety with a good look and common theme leads to greater follow-through by consumers.

4. Based on the number of phone calls received, the ad is most effective in the morning, between 9 am and noon. This is pretty unusual for Thailand. Thais are a late-night people, at least when it comes to mobile surfing. Sixty percent of Thai users go online after midnight, according to the BuzzCity survey report “Who uses the mobile internet?”. Four out of five surf after dinner.

Like many mobile campaigns, the out-of-pocket expense to the company is minimal as compared with every other form of advertising – radio, television, print, outdoor or online. Yet it often takes only a few sales conversions to receive a return on investment – which is what makes this case study particularly interesting for any type of business with a sales hotline. There’s nothing like Click-to-call or Click-to-SMS for immediately engaging and interacting with consumers. Of course, this model is also good for any company offering paid content over the phone.

One bit of advice, though, for Khun Nichaphat and other advertisers. Better to customise and space out your ads. Most campaigns experience diminishing returns over time. The best way to counteract this effect is to focus on different products or services at different points in the campaign. For example, in this case, our fortune-teller could initially promote tarot cards. Then next month, offer a discount on horoscopes. The following month, focus on another aspect of the business. In this way, the campaign stays fresh and the advertiser’s fortune is prosperous.

Categories: case study, Delynn Ho


September 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Results from our latest survey are out and the top 10 brands among mobile internet users are:

  1. KFC
  2. McDonald’s
  3. Sony
  4. Nestlé
  5. Samsung
  6. Nokia
  7. LG
  8. Coca-Cola
  9. Panasonic
  10. Philips

More than half of all mobile users say they’ll recommend a brand that they like to their peers. However only 4% say they’ll do so in reaction to a specific sales promotion.

How does this affect promotional campaigns,particularly those that incentivise people to “Refer-a-Friend” or “Get-a-Freebie”?

They’ll need to dig deep to find that 4%. Campaigns that have clearly identified a brand’s promise and performance, on the other hand, are likely to inspire the advocate in the user.

More detailed results are available for download here.

Categories: Uncategorized