December 23, 2011

Mobile Marketing on a Shoestring

By Michael de Souza, VP Media

As 2012 approaches, there are still companies that have not allocated budgets for mobile marketing yet.

What are they thinking?

Yes, we are biased, but here are the facts:

  • The number of mobile devices is about to equal the number of people on this planet.
  • Mobile is the primary – sometimes the only – way to access the internet in many markets
  • Mobile advertising is inexpensive as compared to other media
  • It is easy to measure the return on investment and unlike print, radio and TV, marketing can be directly linked to sales.
So if you are a brand manager, agency type, media buyer, strategist or really anyone who has a creative say about what goes into a campaign, don't be scared of change.

Listen, we realise you could get fired for spending half a year’s budget running a mobile campaign (but never for a TV commercial!), so here are some ways you can become the go-to guy on your team for mobile.

December 09, 2011

Five Predictions for the Mobile Industry in 2012

It's that time of year when we bring out our crystal ball and gaze into the not-so-distant future.

What would you think of a world where mobile devices all operate off of the same system, tablets replace laptops AND phones, coupon giants go the way of the Netscape & Friendster and m-Commerce remains a distant dream?

NO, we wouldn't believe that either! The mobile industry is constantly changing, but based on our experience of the past year, we're confident that these 5 predictions will hold true:

1. Marketers finally accept fragmentation.
2. Tablets are recognised as a new type of media, unique from PCs and phones.
3. Coupon companies go mobile, add fulfillment, then soar.
4. Small businesses embrace mobile social media.
5. m-Commerce comes of age in emerging markets.

Let's take a closer look!

November 28, 2011

Are Mobile Consumers Better Informed than Salespeople?

By Michael de Souza, VP Media

An editor of Harvard Magazine recently wrote about consumers who are taking on (willingly or not) the roles of petrol attendants, check out clerks and sales assistants. Go to a supermarket in the US, and you're likely to scan your own purchase. Drive into a petrol station, pump your own gasoline and squeegee the windshield yourself.

“The robots have won,” writes Craig Lambert. “Although the automatons were supposedly going to free people by taking on life’s menial, repetitive tasks, frequently, technological innovation actually offloads such jobs onto human beings."

It's not all bad news, though. When it comes to purchase decisions, consumers are winning. The average shopper has become adept at product research - checking product information and comparing prices on the spot.  Even in situations where a salesperson is available, consumers have a bigger view that includes options in other stores and online.

The self-service phenomenon may be charmless, but in this case, mobile technology is empowering consumers with information . . . and offering new opportunities to retailers and publishers.

November 18, 2011

New Mobile Regulations in Indonesia Pave the Way for M-Commerce Growth

By K.F. Lai, BuzzCity CEO

The government of Indonesia has effectively 'reset' the mobile subscriptions market. It shut down all mobile subscriptions in mid-October and required content providers who wish to resubscribe their users to do so in compliance with tougher rules.

Consumer agencies have been pushing for this action against a small minority of mobile advertisers whose fraudulent actions tarnished the whole industry, for some time.

The result is good news for the whole industry (well, everyone except those fraudsters) and it took place not a moment too late. Regulators around the world are starting to recognise the importance of their role in protecting the value chain. By re-establishing much-needed trust between businesses and consumers, this paves the way for the emergence of solid m-commerce markets.

November 04, 2011

Ad networks: the scale and insight to beat fragmentation

The past few years have shown remarkable growth of the mobile internet, driven by rapid consumer adoption and major advances in the capabilities of mobile devices. In recent months, mobile ad networks received a great vote of confidence from investors, who bet substantial sums that the space will continue growing, become more valuable, and attract an increasing share of marketing budgets.

In spite of this, though, some naysayers still question the value of ad networks. They believe that marketers are still treating mobile as an afterthought, and they question the quality of network traffic.

October 12, 2011

The BuzzCity Report ( Volume 1 Issue 4 )

In the third quarter of 2011, our network grew by 11%, and served a total of 33.7 billion ads worldwide. We’ve already exceeded the number of ads served in the whole of 2010, and are well on track to double last year’s performance.

In addition to the regular roundup of stats and analytics, we focus on the practical lessons particularly aimed at smaller businesses. Our feature section is a primer on ‘Mobilizing your Business’ and our Media Insight section shows how you can effectively make use of social networking to promote a local business. Please click here to download the full report.

October 11, 2011

Best Practices and Tips for BuzzCity Publishers

By Delynn Ho, VP Sales

BuzzCity has passed an important milestone: our advertising network now averages over 10 billion impressions every month, thanks in part to a growing number of small individual publishers.

Take Indonesia, for example.  As in all our markets, the average cost per click is a function of advertiser demand and publisher supply. At the moment, the average CPC in Indonesia is about 4 US cents. So if you figure a site gets 5000 clicks -- a decent amount for an entrepreneur or hobbyist -- that's US $200.

So, how do YOU cash in? Well, in my last article, I wrote about the mechanics of how to become a publisher. This week, I'd like to share some tips that will help you make money and best practices that will keep your readers and visitors happy.

September 21, 2011

Earning Money as a BuzzCity Publisher

By Delynn Ho, VP Sales

The BuzzCity Ad Network enables mobile website publishers and application developers to monetise their content with advertisements. Partners earn a share of the revenue for each ad clicked while retaining complete control over how and where the ads appear.

So if you've created a mobile site - whether it's to talk about sports, music or share your views on everyday life -- and you'd like to make some money, this blog entry is for you.  Today, we're going to walk you through the basics of becoming a BuzzCity Publisher and answer some commonly asked questions about payments.

September 08, 2011

Mobile Entertainment Comes of Age, Revealing a Treasure Trove of Opportunities for Brand Engagement

By KF Lai, CEO

Anyone who still believes that mobile gaming is the domain of the spotty teenage boy urgently needs to update their thinking. All age groups are now engaging in regular and immersive mobile entertainment activity on their mobile phones, and the proportion of women playing mobile games is rising fast. Those agencies and brands that understand the new dynamics of mobile entertainment can take advantage of this powerful channel to reach mainstream consumers with “byte size” commercial or branded messages.

August 29, 2011

Social Networking and Business 101

By Chester Ng, Sales Director (Southeast Asia) 
If you are a small business owner, you don't need to spend a lot of time or money to have a presence on the mobile internet. Free social networking tools are making it easy to create 'mobilised' content to attract and interact with consumers. You can also publish updates on your own, without having to depend on an agency or web developer.

Best of all, you'll reach a large market segment that depends on mobile handsets to access the internet.

In today's blog post, I'd like to share some examples with you of how major brands are using social networks. But whether you own a hair salon or a restaurant, work at a local retailer or manufacturer, you can apply these ideas to your own business in ways that will benefit your company's bottom line.

August 12, 2011

Some Advice for the Makers of White Box Phones (and the rest of us too)

By Michael de Souza, VP Media

Walk into a handset store in the popular shopping mall ITC Roxy Mas in Jakarta or District 1 in Saigon and there's a very good chance you'll find rarely heard of makes being sold alongside the international mass-market brands.  Some phones, though, like the Blueberry and ti-phone, have a familiar ring to them.

These generic 'white-box' phones are selling just about as well – sometimes better – than their big-name competitors and they now offer the same features, and then some, at a cheaper price.

Telecom carriers and brand-name manufacturers are taking a big hit, but if the no-name upstarts are to survive and flourish, they should take a few tips from the likes of the iPhone and Samsung. Otherwise, they'll be knocked off the block by the next company that can slice a penny off the cost of a chip or screen.

July 28, 2011

French Mobile Users and m-Commerce

A shift is taking place in the French mobile internet.

French mobile surfers are mainly using the internet for three reasons: (1) to have fun and play online, (2) to look for services and information like phone numbers, addresses and the next party to go to and (3) to read and access mobile content.

Most of the French brands don't get this, though. They've been too focused on SMS marketing to their existing databases to see the advantages of mobile advertising. And ad agencies have been reluctant to use long-tail networks like BuzzCity due to lingering doubts.

But this is changing as French brands begin to use the medium to attract new consumers, rather than targeting campaigns to existing clients and some companies – like La Redoute – are discovering innovative ways of integrating m-commerce into their business models.

Mobile Surfing and Privacy in France

The #1 concern of ad agencies, brands and consumers in France, when it comes to the mobile internet, is privacy. And for good reason. We've seen high-profile scams and questionsable business practices that have tried consumer patience and hit users in the wallet.

We take these concerns seriously at BuzzCity.

In this column, we'd like to share with you some examples of the bad practices that have put French consumers on edge as well as what BuzzCity is doing to block unethical and rogue practices.

Please be sure to check out our other column that takes a closer look at the French mobile user and highlights how one innovative French company is making the most of m-Commerce.

July 26, 2011

Exploring North African Markets

The demand for Value-Added Services (VAS) in North African markets is rising as telecoms and media converge further. If you are a VAS provider looking to expand in this region, here are the questions you should be asking:

1. What are the key North African hotspots?

Q on Q
North African Growth

Traffic in North African countries has seen tremendous growth in the last 18 months.  Surfing activity in the first half of 2011 generated as much traffic as during the preceding year.  And in the second quarter of this year, we served nearly 1 billion ads in the region.

July 15, 2011

Mobile Development Tips: The Hybrid Approach

By Michael de Souza, VP Media

OK, you're about to embark on a new advertising campaign. One agency tells you that Mobile Apps are the way to go – they're sexy, there's no lag in the experience, the app stays on a consumer's phone forever (unless she deletes it), it's a fantastic branding tool and besides everyone's doing it. But another agency has a long list of reasons why you should concentrate on a mobile website: they're easier to access, cheaper to build, better suited to sales and have a superior return-on-investment.

So what do you do?

Increasingly, the right approach is to build both. Here are five steps to help you along the way . . .

July 14, 2011

The BuzzCity Report: Vol 1 Issue 3

The latest BuzzCity Report has been released, covering our activity for the second quarter of 2011. The report includes detailed statistics on the performance of the network and studies the trends and forces that are shaping mobile internet advertising.

As the latest issue explains, we’ve posted another quarter of exceptionally strong growth:
  1. The number of ads served has increased by 30% this quarter, to 30.2 billion, an important milestone for the ad network (for the first quarter in our history, we’ve averaged over 10 billion ads a month).

July 11, 2011

Oh What a Lovely (Price) War!

By Daniel Courtenay, Publisher Alliance Account Manager (Africa)

South Africans who have travelled abroad over the past decade have often returned with envy-provoking tales of cheap, high-speed uncapped internet access, for as little as R200 a month (around US$30). Customers in Europe and the US have had access to deals like this for the past eight or ten years. Back home, this kind of connectivity has been limited to a privileged few. Until recently.

The opening salvo

A fortnight ago 8ta, Telkom’s new mobile operator, slashed mobile broadband prices, firing the opening salvo in a local price war which is likely to rock the entire industry.

The offer is as follows: 10Gb of data per month, for a period of 24 months, at R199 a month (US$30), and an additional 10Gb of data for late night usage over the same period for R100 (US$15). That’s a cut of nearly 90% per MB over average industry rates.

April 20, 2011

App Monetisation Secrets (Part IV)

By Romulo “Je” Alipio, Executive Producer, Games

Try & Buy, Virtual Goods, Mobile Ads, Mobile Rewards, Service Subscriptions, Upgrades & Updates, Cross-selling, Mix & Match . . . the number of revenue strategies has blossomed along with the market for mobile apps.

Which strategy works best? Which is the most lucrative?

I can't answer that . . . because there is no single monetisation strategy that will work across markets. You really have to do your research. And it's extremely important to have a business model in mind from Day 1. Waiting until a new app is finished before sorting this out is a sure way to lose money.

Don't despair, though. While it's particularly difficult to build a game that will be successful in both developing and developed markets, I think there are three inter-related key variables for developers to keep in mind as they create games and take them to market.

April 19, 2011

The BuzzCity Report (Vol 1 Issue 2)

The BuzzCity Report for the first quarter of 2011,  as before, includes detailed statistics and analytics, which maps the trends and forces that are shaping the mobile internet advertising. 

In this latest edition we report on:-
  1. The number of ads served on our network increased 38% globally over the past three months, to 23.2 billion ad impressions.  This means more reach for advertisers and opportunities in new markets for content developers. By the end of March 2011, our network served more than 9 billion ads per month.
  2. Countries that stand out this quarter include Spain (225% increase) and the USA (+72%). Others that have continued strong existing growth trends include Egypt (+144%), China (+130%), Mexico (+93%), South Korea (+92%), Thailand (+92%) and Turkey (+82%).
  3. The continued consumer demand for mobile content, 
  4. The most successful tactics currently used to promote apps (essential reading for all developers), 
  5. How the live music industry is responding to the challenges and opportunities presented by the mobile internet .
Click here to download the report.

April 06, 2011

App Monetisation Secrets (Part III) : 2007 - 2011

By Romulo “Je” Alipio, Executive Producer, Games

Apple's introduction of the App Store in 2007 revolutionised the mobile industry. Games and application developers were freed from the shackles of phone manufacturers and carrier portals. They could sell directly to consumers and in multiple markets. Development cycles shortened, go-to-market strategies were refined. But the iPhone platform only represents three percent of the global market and all the hype led even more developers to try their luck, making it harder and harder for a single app to stand out (and be profitable).

Faced with yet another crossroads, developers innovated and found a new business model: freemium, a mix of free content and premium paid services.

There are at least half-a-dozen freemium models. Each offers a potential solution to the issue of distribution and profitability. The techniques can be used anywhere – websites, wapsites, OEMs, on-deck portals, indie store fronts like Djuzz and even via email. But of course there are also pitfalls. Today, join me, as I try to make sense out of Try & Buy, Mobile Ads, Virtual Goods and more.

April 04, 2011

App Monetisation Secrets (Part 2)

By Romulo “Je” Alipio, Executive Producer, Games

At the turn of the millennium (which sounds very cool to say, but was really just a little over a decade ago), app developer houses were popping up all over the place. 
Large developers made money by selling content directly to phone manufacturers like Nokia.  Sometimes they received one-off payments, but more often revenue sharing was the preferred model.  Garage developers, meanwhile, struck deals with bigger companies, which could bundle their content for sale to the Nokias and Ericcsons.

But as the number of development houses mushroomed, margins became smaller and smaller and it just became too difficult to turn a profit. Pay-per-download seemed the way to go, but like the other models, this revenue stream was highly dependent on the carriers, which created a number of problems for developers.

March 29, 2011

App Monetisation Secrets (Part 1)

By Romulo “Je” Alipio, Executive Producer, Games

"Freemium". Is it the golden grail for application developers? It's certainly the key buzzword in the industry right now. But not that long ago pay-per-download and embedding were on top.

Developing cool and useful mobile applications isn't easy. Making money off them can be even harder. Even if you believe in freemium, there are so many different models – Try & Buy, Upgrades, Mobile Rewards . . . what to do?

Well, let's start with a sense of history. Today's piece is the first of a multi-part series in which I'm going to take a closer look at the evolution of mobile monetisation, explore why some business models work and others don't, then share reflections about what's to come in the near future.

March 22, 2011

Ringback Tones

By Delynn Ho, VP Sales

Ever find yourself snapping your fingers, bouncing your head or even singing along as you listen to a friend's mobile ring a familiar tune? Or perhaps you find your colleague's ringback tone to be especially annoying? (No offense, Hisham!)

What's a ringback tone, you ask?

March 15, 2011

Telecoms Go Off-Portal

By Delynn Ho, VP Sales

A shift has taken place in the world of telecom companies.

Not long ago, carriers saw themselves as gateways, creating walled gardens making it difficult and more expensive for mobile users to surf beyond the telco portals. Mobile users wouldn't have it, though. And as data charges in most markets have become increasingly affordable, telcos have had to adjust.

Nowhere has this shift been more pronounced than in the carriers' sales and marketing departments. Under the old plans, telcos were content to market to their consumer base, particularly via SMS blasts. Today, though, carriers are moving beyond their own properties. They're taking out mobile ads and running mobile campaigns, just like brands in other industries, to engage surfers and promote unique services like ringback tones.

The new campaigns are paying off.

Agencies tell us that mobile internet usage during the period of the campaigns has increased by more than 40%.

Let's take a look at examples from three countries . . .

February 24, 2011

Blind Networks: Now You See!

By Michael de Souza, VP Media

Blind ad networks are often misunderstood despite the huge traffic they serve.

With blind networks you can’t specify the individual mobile internet sites on which your ads will appear. Instead, you select a channel, such as ‘Entertainment & Lifestyle’ or ‘Premium Portals’ (there are nine to choose from altogether), and your ads are displayed across the hundreds or thousands of mobile internet sites within that category.

This kind of selection is a necessity, as it is in any long-tail network. Asking brand managers or media planners to work through a list of thousands of individual sites to evaluate their content and context for a good match to the brand that they’re promoting, and then make a selection, would be time-consuming and counterproductive.

January 25, 2011

Mobile Banking

By Chester Ng, Sales Director (Southeast Asia)

After selling livestock or milk in local markets, Maasai herdsman living in the Serengeti Plains of Kenya, used to return home with cash in their pockets, which might sound nice but also meant they were walking targets for theft. No more. Thanks to a mobile banking service, a herdsman's customers now transfer payment direct to the seller's account.

Kenyans in the city, meanwhile, are using the same service to pay for transport. But as a BBC reporter points out, try to do this in London, New York or Hong Kong or Singapore, for that matter, and you'll likely “find yourself with a very upset cab driver”.

At BuzzCity, we've noticed an increasing number of banks and financial institutions using mobile advertising to share information and promote services. But very few have actually introduced full-service m-banking. This is going to change. And as it does, there are a number of things that banks need to keep in mind . . . .

January 20, 2011

Mobile Advertising Index (Q4 2010)

2010 saw a huge growth of the mobile internet as more users took advantage of cheaper data rates and much improved handsets. Our ad network grew by over 90% compared to 2009 and advertiser campaigns have also increased.

More than 2500 advertisers ran campaigns and increased their expenditure in several key markets.

India continued on its growth curve – in Q4 more than four billion ads were delivered to Indian audiences - and for the first time outpaced Indonesia to secure the number one spot.

The top 5 most active countries in Q4 were:

  1. India : 4 billion impressions served
  2. Indonesia : 3.0 billion impressions served
  3. United States : 1.1 billion impressions served
  4. South Africa : 0.9 billion impressions served
  5. Kenya : 0.5 billion impressions served.
To view the report in full, please visit the Reports section of the BuzzCity website.

January 19, 2011

Shoprite, Shop Right!

By Hawa Omar, Sales Director, South Africa

Whether you want to buy an iron, a birthday present for your nephew, a bus ticket, haircare products or meat for the braai, Shoprite has it all and usually at a good price. With over 1000 outlets in South Africa, Shoprite is South Africa's largest supermarket chain. The company, which also has 36 stores in twelve more African countries, focuses on turnover and targets middle-income consumers.

And like a growing number of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) businesses, the South African superstore has begun promoting its goods on the mobile internet with banner ads and interactive pages.

FMCGs, in general though, are not making the most of mobile. CEOs need to take a step back and look at how internet giants like Amazon grew their online communities and markets, then adapt these lessons for the unwired.