Vodacom today launched a new advertising medium with massive potential. 

“With the launch of mobile advertising, a first for South Africa, Vodacom is entering the media space in line with our strategy to diversify into a multimedia company. It is a huge new market and we estimate mobile media adspend in South Africa could reach R1.5-billion by 2011,” says Romeo Kumalo, Vodacom South Africa’s Commercial Executive Director.
“Vodacom is optimising our distribution and marketing know-how to grow horizontally in a market with cellphone penetration at more than 80%.
“More than 25-million cellphones will become a potent new advertising medium with mobile advertising, putting the power to control advertising exposure in the consumer’s hands. This moves away from the traditional advertising medium that ‘pushes’ the message to the consumer, to a medium where the consumer ‘pulls’ the advertising they are interested in,” Kumalo says.
He added that mobile advertising has a number of major strengths. “Its reach is enormous; it offers advertisers immediacy, can be targeted to demographics, usage patterns and time of day, can generate responses and is an intelligent one-to-one, interactive marketing tool.”
This development is expected to change the advertising landscape significantly. Marketing research showed that 52% of brands were expected to commit 5% – 25% of their budgets to mobile advertising within five years.
"This is not surprising, as mobile advertising is an especially effective avenue to the lucrative 19 – 29 year-old young, urban and single consumers with substantial spending power. These consumers have grown up with cellphones and are at the forefront of a technology revolution that will eventually become far more standard in the way we communicate with empowered consumers,” he says.
Vodacom says text adverts will be sold on Please Call Me, its free call-back service that generates up to 20 million messages a day and reaches both the lower and higher end of the market. Banner adverts will be sold on Vodacom’s mobile Internet portals – Vodacom4me and Vodafone live! – which draw a total of 1.4-million users per month. The ads will offer consumers an optional click-through to a mobile website, allowing them to decide if they want to engage further with the brand.
Vodacom had run a trial mobile advertising campaign with leading brand Nike over the past three months. “It proved a very popular pull-mechanism with more than 84 000 content downloads such as wallpapers and 9 200 survey responses, far exceeding the client’s expectations,” Kumalo says.
He adds that the feature rich cellphone technology lent itself to many more future developments and enhancements of mobile advertising.
“These will include South Africa’s first high-volume, profiled, opted-in database for direct marketing on mobile with messages delivered by SMS or MMS.