Airtel will be piloting an advertising supported Caller Ring Back Tones project in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), contentSutra had reported earlier today. The project is expected to start around the 8th of July, in two cities in the state, with a test base of 5000-10000 customers. We spent a lot of time today trying to verify this information, and have received mixed responses from sources - some say that the service isn't being launched and is just at an idea stage, others say that it has been piloted and been running for a while now, while some senior executives in Airtel UP have denied any knowledge of the service. Last year, I had heard a rumour that Airtel was piloting ad-supported CRBTs in Chennai, but wasn't able to confirm it. I'm wondering if Virgin Mobile's launch earlier this year has necessitated this step. Leads Or Branding? In the past, mobile operators have set up advertisement-related CRBTs for companies: for company sponsored phones, like in case of Coca Cola, they've kept the jingles as the CRBT. However, the value for the advertiser is in communicating with the person who is calling up, not the one whose number is being called. So ideally, the CRBT should be variable, and listener specific. As per the report, Airtel is going to enable interactivity - for users to get more information on a service by pressing *. The real question is - what do ad-supported CRBTs offer to advertisers - leads or branding?…
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