M1 to introduce new form of SMS advertising

Source: Business Times

27 June 2007: MOBILEONE is hoping to increase its share of mobile advertising revenue with a new service which allows companies to entice phone users with ads while they are text messaging.

To be launched later this quarter, the operator’s new advertising platform uses an improved messaging application called SMS 2.0. Developed by UK-based mobile solutions developer Affle, SMS 2.0 will replace the present system used for sending text messages.

Consumers will still go about crafting and sending an SMS in the same way but the application will now allow advertisers to place ads at the bottom of the messaging screen.

‘These (ads) are non-intrusive, targeted, and they’re blended with the content,’ said Anuj Khanna, CEO of Affle. He stressed that subscribers will only be presented with advertisements that correspond with the topics of interests chosen when they register the application.

‘Consumers won’t find it (the advertisement) to be annoying,’ M1 CEO Neil Montefiore told reporters at a joint launch event. Subscribers can click on these ads, which can include anything from store promotions to news headlines, for more information and they can even place a call to the advertiser directly.

Upgrades are also under way to allow users to search for content on the Web by typing keywords directly into SMS 2.0, in a similar way to using Internet search engines like Google on PCs today. When the service starts, the application will be pre-installed on selected Nokia phones to be sold at M1 shops.

SMS 2.0 only works with a handful of Nokia handsets like the N70 and N72 for now but there are plans to include other manufacturers, Mr Khanna said.

M1’s launch plans were firmed up following the recent conclusion of its SMS 2.0 trials, a project which involved nearly 2,000 subscribers and was backed by advertisers like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola.

‘What we’ve found out with this form of advertising is that the click-through rates are much higher than the Internet,’ said Mr Montefiore