Mobile advertising company talks agencies' language

Russian mobile advertising company Gigafone has plans to move into Europe and south east Asia. The company claims it has proved its business model with Russian operators, including MTS.

"Our approach is different because we are looking to serving huge volumes of adverts through voice and SMS, whereas others tend to focus on specific, fragmented areas such as video ads or WAP. We're after the mass market, which is what advertising agencies want, not a few hundred or even a few thousand, targeted impressions," said Alan  Harper, company spokesperson and advisor in Europe (former head of Vodafone strategy).

Extensive interviews over the last year with a number of advertising agencies confirm this view. It is a breakthrough to hear a telecoms company implementing what advertising agencies (and their clients, the brands) want instead of trying to impose their view of how mobile advertising should  be - targeted and relevant.

The adverts are served along with the CLI information on incoming phone calls or with text messages. Harper says brands such as Nissan, British American Tobacco (in Russia tobacco advertising is still legal, unlike in Western Europe), Nissan, Intel and Unilver have advertised through Gigafone.

According to the company, users can opt in and out at will. Depending on the advertising campaign, consumers might enjoy reduced tariffs or free minutes or messages in return for opting in or they might be given discount vouchers by the brand advertising.

Harper said that some targeting was carried out by the platform; "We ask for basic information when a user joins and we can work with carriers to use their CRM information, although often this isn't the right sort of information for targetting."

He added, "We have plans to expand into Europe and Asia, including India. We are currently talking to four operators in four different south east Asian countries. Although European operators have more customers, their decision making process tends to be much slower, so initially we'll be concentrating more on Asia by teaming up with ad agencies."

This should be of considerable interest to mobile advertising companies everywhere, from Celltick (which itself has had considerable success in Asia and Russia with its idle screen deployments) to the likes of JumpTap and Medio Systems which serve ads (as well as other results) in response to searches on mobile.