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Lower mobile costs imminent, say experts

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 20 – Marketer’s interests in using cell phones for business and consumer communications will see a substantial decrease in mobile telephony expenses, as advertisers move in to subsidise costs according to experts.

Interactive Media Services General Manager Kiran Dhadialla said advertisers were now willing to reward subscribers who are open to mobile advertising, because of its targeted communications that offer a higher return on investment compared to traditional advertising.

"With over 13 million mobile phone users, Kenya now has a  critical mass of subscribers, especially younger ones who are using mobile phones for text messaging, surfing the mobile internet, watching short shows, taking photos or videos and checking e-mail messages, who form a market for mobile advertising" said Ms Kiran.

She explained that advertisers have the option of offering the market branded phones or requesting subscribers’ permission to send them advertisements, which they are rewarded for with reduced call costs or other incentives.

"Mobile advertising is permission-based. So your messages are sent only to those who have requested for them" said Ms Kiran.

Francis Stephen George, the Moota Executive Vice President for Africa, said advertisers can reward subscribers who view their advertisements by topping up their phones, giving them discounts or offering particular demographics branded phones.

"Either way, the cumulative effect is a significant reduction in costs for the subscriber," said Mr George.

Moota, which is a Norwegian telecom company has customised mobile phones for business to consumer to communications in the West, and has now entered into partnership with Interactive Media Services (IMS) for mobile phone provisioning, where content and bookmarks are preloaded on cell phones before being sold.

Ms Kiran said that working with Moota, mobile phones can be provisioned in Kenya to facilitate individualised business to consumer communications by content pre-loading and bookmarks installations.

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"Mobile phones can handle advertisements in many forms, including video, text messages, search and banner displays. Cell phone ads can be fine -tuned based on customer data" she revealed.

Mr George said companies in other markets distribute customised free cell phones to selected demographics for targeted marketing, and reward subscribers for participating in marketing communications by giving discounted airtime.

"Cell phones are the most pervasive media devices, beating out computers and televisions, as consumers keep their mobile phones at their sides nearly every moment of the day," he went on.

Analysts have said that the new uses of cell phones present vast opportunities for consumer brand companies, which are finding it difficult to reach customers through traditional media like magazines and television.

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