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The country’s largest provider has forayed into the Rs 100-crore (m-Advertising) market recently. The initiative, that took around 12-14 months to take shape, will equip advertisers to connect with their potential customers in a targeted and personalised manner through the mobile phone. K Srinivas, president (consumer business), Bharti Airtel, said in a prepared statement, “Personalisation, sharp segmentation and contextualisation are increasingly making this platform an exciting proposition for brands. With the mobile advertising market poised to grow by more than 40 per cent over the next few years, Airtel with its technology, scale and customer intelligence is placed uniquely to leverage this growing medium.”

is Airtel’s partner for this initiative. The platform is designed to meet the essential demands of advertisers such as inventory management, campaign management, reporting and analytics. The opportunity in this market is huge. A report jointly published by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and research firm IMRB. Says the market will reach Rs 144 crore by 2013.

One of early engagements around this was when Airtel did a campaign for Star Plus’ new TV channel, Life OK, in December last year. It had sent an end of call notification that reached its users between 5 pm and 8 pm on the day the channel went on air.

Through Airtel’s m-Advertising platform, advertisers will be able to leverage a range of communication outlets and tools such as mobile internet (WAP), messaging services and Airtel digital TV to engage with their audiences. Mohit Beotra, head (emerging business), Bharti Airtel, says, “It’s a new medium in India. For us, it’s not just about driving sales but to help marketers understand the opportunities that m-Advertising has. An SMS, for instance, has 160 characters, and marketers need to brief their target group about their product in the limited space of one promotional message, which is a tough task. Besides using the platforms of SMS, recharge coupons, end of call notifications, this also includes the DTH platform to make the reach wider.”

Mind you, cellphone users in India have the option to cut themselves off the deluge of pesky calls and SMSes under a regulation from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. If a subscriber continues to receive spam, he can alert his telecom service provider. According to the new regulations, telemarketers targeting users who have opted for DND (do not disturb), will face penalty starting from Rs 25,000 for the first offense and rising up to Rs 2,50,000 for the sixth offense.

Airtel says it will send only relevant information to users, who are open to receiving messages. “For instance, the cellphone users who frequently travel from Delhi to Mumbai will only be sent SMSes on deals that airlines offer instead of reaching out to 183 million (Airtel’s subscriber base in India). Thus, it protects the customer from receiving spam,” says Beotra. This platform also offers companies a chance to tap rural audience with voice solutions.

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