Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited (SSTL) which operates its telecom services under the MTS brand has launched “MTS mAd”, which allows subscribers to make free local calls by watching video ads on their mobile phones. The service is being launched across all MTS circles and will be available on all Android devices on the MTS network including MTS MTag 3.1, MTS MTag 351, MTS MTag 352, MTS MTag 353, MTS MTag 401, MTS Pulse, Samsung Galaxy Y and Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos CDMA. The company says it is also working to expand the scope of this service by launching it on Blackberry handsets, and BREW enabled entry level MTS handsets.
MTS subscribers don’t need to pay additional charges for activation of the service, application download and for data transfer while watching video ads, and MTS claims that the users will get a seamless experience with no buffering and video streaming issues. Subscribers using the service will be able to make as many as 4 MTS mAd calls in a day.
According to the company several brands including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mentos, Center Fresh, Fiat, Kellogg’s, Titan, Lenovo, among others have already signed up as advertisers on the MTS mAd service.
Tie-up with Astute?: We had first seen a demo of the same service by Astute Systech, an Indore based VAS company which offers Pre-Call ads on mobile screens, at Qualcomm IndiaOn, last year. An Astute spokesperson at the conference had also informed us that they were in talks with MTS for the service, in addition to Yum foods and Unilever for ad tie-ups. We’re trying to get in touch with Astute and will update the post as we hear from them.
How It works: According to MTS, customers using Android devices on its network, just need to send an SMS with keyword “FREE” on a toll free number 55559 or call up MTS Customer Care (toll free), following which they will get the MTS mAd Call application WAP link for download; and they can install the application on their Smartphone. After installation, whenever the Customer will attempt to make a call, an automatic pop up will ask if he wants to make a ‘Free Call’ or ‘Paid Call’.
If he selects a free call, a video ad will play for 20-30 seconds, and post that the call will be connected. After completion, 60 seconds of local calling will be credited to the customer’s account, free of charge, and the same will be confirmed via SMS. The free credit would be paid by the advertisers. If the subscriber has already used his daily free call limit, then the ‘Free call pop up’ will not be displayed.
Our take: The monetisation opportunity with mobile content and services, has not been explored much, except with free mobile apps (where it’s the only option at times) in India. On the face of it, and from what we’ve seen at an event, the service looks interesting. We feel that the service will pull many subscribers with the free calls thrown in. We had also seen the same being implemented for free wallpapers and ringtone downloads. Who knows we might see free caller tunes with embedded ads, in the near future. This also means guaranteed ad views for advertisers, who’ve been skeptical of mobile advertising as the chances of false clicks are comparatively higher. In this case, instead of pushing ads to users, they’ll actually download an app and watch ads voluntarily.
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