Out-of-Home in the hand

Source: AdAsia | View Print Article

‘The next big thing’ in advertising platforms is reckoned to be the mobile phone. Also known as the ‘third screen’ (after the TV and the computer), the mobile phone is exciting advertisers as a medium that is breaking through the clutter and offering interactivity to the user. The Singapore Outdoor Advertising Awards recognised this new out-of-home media three years ago and introduced the category. However, being ahead of its time, the number of entries has remained small. This may well change with this new interest in mobile advertising.

What has fueled this interest? Of course, a major factor has been the ubiquitousness of the mobile/handphone and other digital hand devices. In some markets, the PC has been by passed because of the lack of broadband connection and equipment cost. The improved power and technology has turned the mobile into ‘the computer in your hand’ as one mobile manufacturer states in its ads.

The increase in screen size has helped. The new Apple iPhone has indeed turned the entire surface of the device into a screen. Larger screens will accelerate its value as a viewing platform for videos or advertisements.

AdAsia recently met up with Richard Humphreys, Chairman of UK-registered company called Affle which opened its HQ in Singapore in February 2006. The company has signed a deal with Airtel in India and is preparing to launch there shortly. There are plans to move into Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand,Philippines,China, Taiwan,Japan and Australia.

Humphreys should know what advertisers need. He has had a long and distinguished career in the London and New York advertising scene, becoming the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide. His participation in this venture adds to the belief that the ad industry will be taking mobile advertising more seriously in future.

Affle’s SMS2.0 has been under test with 2,000 M1 users for some time with good feedback and following the soft launch this month, there will be a big bang in December.

Anuj Khanna, CEO at Affle, said, “Affle’s vision is to have mobile phone users around the world make a complete switch from Short Message Service to Short Message and Search or SMS2.0.

Here’s how it works; Users are invited to download the service free-of-charge with the incentive of receiving in a small strip at the bottom of the screen useful content like breaking news plus a search option, just like using the Internet, via Google, Yahoo or Microsoft. The user is given a choice of thirteen topics in order to indicate their interests. They will then receive only advertising messages which are relevant. This is more acceptable to the user and it means the advertiser reaches a receptive audience.

Humphreys told AdAsia that he expected phones to soon be be manufactured with this service already built in.

It is, however, very much a written message system although users can access the web for further details and images.

Mobile advertising is still in its infancy but before long, it may become the predominant outdoor media. One hopes people will still take their eyes off the phone screen long enough to look at billboards and train carriage ads.