Facebook partners with VivaConnect to scale-up its Missed Call Ad Unit business

Facebook had launched a missed call ad unit business specifically for the feature phone-heavy Indian market. To scale-up its reach across mobile devices, Facebook has partnered with VivaConnect.

This Missed Call Advertisement-based initiative is Facebook’s first foray into using primary feature of a mobile phone (i.e a missed call, voice call or SMS service), aimed specifically at helping advertisers reach their consumers in developing markets. India is quickly catching up to the US, Facebook’s biggest market. Last April, Facebook crossed the ‘100 million users’ milestone in India. Around 66% Indians access Facebook on mobile devices of feature phone segment and over 95% of India’s mobile subscriber base has a Prepaid connection.

Moreover, this is a market in which ‘giving someone a missed call’ is common, both in terms of practice and parlance. Overseas, people typically say, ‘I missed your call’; but here, a ‘missed call’ is something one deliberately places. Team Facebook is optimistic that the new Missed Call Ad format will bolster advertising on Facebook, through the mobile device, in India.

Maxine Schlein, Product Marketing Manager, Emerging markets at Facebook, says, “Consumer behavior in high-growth markets is changing very rapidly and we are poised to respond to that as quickly as possible. We see brands delivering useful and entertaining content like sports scores, news, or celebrity messages that people find valuable enough to take the time to listen to and interact with. There is also a good tie-in for direct response advertisers who can use the missed call unit as lead generation, where a person is essentially raising their hand and expressing interest in a good or service.”

Missed Call
Michelin India’s advertisement campaign over Facebook with call to action over Missed Call. An easy connect with brand for users accessing the site over mobile phone.

How it works: In addition to the regular Facebook Ads, the Missed Call Ad Unit has a ‘Missed Call’ button. As users click on ‘Missed Call’ button, they are automatically taken to the dialing screen that features the telephone number. As they initiate the call its automatically disconnected after two rings. In response they promptly receive a call back or an SMS delivering interactive content such as music, cricket scores, celebrity messages or simply a brand message from the advertiser.

In this Ad unit, the easily available user’s ‘social data’ on their respective Facebook pages, will help brands to fine tune the way they target and communicate with people. Moreover, mobile access will allow for effective re-targeting of consumers and personalizing the content.

Vikram Raichura, Managing director, VivaConnect, says, “Facebook has been a hot trend over mobile in India and so have been missed call services. Together, they would be a perfect solution for delivering an enhanced brand experience over mobile. Missed calls offer an instant way to spark conversations.”

VivaConnect connects brands and their consumers through innovative mobile marketing services. The company holds over 30 million interactions in a single day through services of Voice call, Missed Call, SMS, Email and Mobile Apps.

Featured over Afaqs and Media Avataar.

Plan is to Incubate great Idea’s

In an online interview conducted by VARIndia, Mr. Vikram Raichura (Managing Director, VivaConnect) expresses about his company’s offerings, clients, future plans and its welcoming great ideas and turning them into business opportunities. Here follows the feature from VARIndia Online edition.

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With millions of mobile phone users in India, numerous small and big brands are making use of mobile marketing as a powerful alternative to the existing modes of advertising and connecting with their consumers as it allows more targeted advertisement, which in return, saves money and time for both the company and the consumer. VivaConnect is one such creative mobile marketing company which is having India’s largest infrastructure for Voice and Missed Call Services. Its tailor-made solutions for Brands and Enterprises are offered over missed calls, SMSes, e-mails, mobile apps and voice platforms. VivaConnect’s solutions are an elegant blend of above said mobile services, which are fine-tuned to match client’s objective and the mobile using habit of their intended target group.

VivaConnect revolutionizing the Indian Mobile Marketing space…

We always had a special knack for pushing possibilities of mobile marketing services in India. In 2013, we launched “LiveTalk” – a service for audio broadcasting live events over a phone call. It was developed in conjunction with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). LiveTalk powered up live audio broadcast of 430 public rallies held by BJP during the pre-election campaigning. Over a lakh Indian callers spanning from length and breadth of the country enjoyed a real-time connect with rallies easily over their mobile.

We launched DONE Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a platform crafted exclusively for food and beverage industry to manage orders over call, web and mobile and offer a “Happy Ordering” experience for both owners and customers alike. Currently, DONE is connecting customers of Naturals Ice-Cream (Juhu), Wok In the Box, Sandwizzaa, Cheelizza, Box8, MD’s Pizza, Hangla’s and Juno’s Pizza in the Mumbai circuit, to name a few.

Then, with regard to another product – MORE , we launched an easy and instant gratification service that offers free mobile talk-time refills as an instant reward scheme in return of an engagement with brand over mobile. Hence, customers get instant redemption’s without any waiting or hassle right over their mobile.

VivaConnect’s leading clientele in India…
Our clientele can be distinguished broadly as campaign oriented clients and perennial clients. Most of the FMCG brands, Entertainment and Media houses fit in the former segment, while Enterprise clients fall in the latter one.

VivaConnect extends its services to the Central Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Kotak, Reliance, Sharekhan, Vijaya Bank among the BFSI sector. Among the television network, it has Doordarshan, Sony Television Network and Zee Entertainment Ltd. From consumer brands, VivaConnect is offering its services to LUX, Ponds and some brands under Hindustan Unilever (HUL) Limited.

Your competitors in India…
Since VivaConnect covers the entire spectrum of mobile services spanning missed calls, toll-free service, SMS, email, mobile apps and voice platform, we don’t have a single company as a direct competitor to us. Yet, our individual services do face competition from other mobile marketing service providers.

Plans ahead…
Towards the last quarter of 2014, VivaConnect has a plan to expand in the global markets with innovative mobile marketing initiatives.

There are plenty of great ideas that come from our employees, other small start-ups and emerging companies, awaiting an opportunity and support in terms of capital and infrastructure. We plan to encourage such ideas and propel their growth. You’ll surely hear about it from us soon.

Here’s the online feature : VAR India August 2014 Edition

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CEO Insights in conversation with Vikram Raichura

Interviewed By: Sandeep Kshatriya, Facilitator, The CEO Insights

Tell us about your own education that led you to start VivaConnect?
Going by academics I’m just another commerce graduate without any schooling in a technological course. It just transpired during my graduation years as I discovered a profound interest for technology and gadgets that grew over then arising phenomena ‘The Internet’, all thanks to the computer that I received then as a gift from my father.

Also I was never much interested in playing games or making friends, hence I took up the route of exploring businesses and technology by going around the world. In a way you can say it was my observation & learning that led to VivaConnect, after all business shall be out of your passion and has less to do with your education, ain’t it?

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How has your initiative LiveTalk help you towards standing apart?
It was one of the most startling project that we’ve executed so far. The entire product, right from conceptualization to going live was conceived over a weekend i.e. within 2 days. It challenged everything from our creativity to capability and the capacity in making it a reality!

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LiveTalk then brilliantly showcased the capability of our platform by being one of the key enabler during the most ferocious Indian General Elections of all time. As the leaders took over the podium to host 50+ rallies across India, we connected millions of people who dialed in our platform during event to enjoy a live streaming over Mobile. LiveTalk’s success required immense coordination among our team, infrastructure and the telecom operator.

In a nutshell, it has helped us in establishing ourselves as a solutions partner who creates solutions based on the problem statement by effectively understanding market and user insights and using technology to bridge the communication gap.

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.We want to know more about your Zero Literacy, Zero Cost & Zero Balance service offerings i.e. Missed Call Balance Check, Free Voting Platform, etc.

Indian market is subjected to a price sensitive consumer base. Hence if a person is charged for connecting with a brand, they tend to get highly reluctant. Plus it also defeats the overall objective of the brands who are aiming to engage with larger addressable audience.

Thus, after a lot of permutations, combinations and mixing it up with creativity, we devised services for easy brand interactions over mobile at the lowest possible cost, to the extent of keeping them free of cost for the end users.

So our services, iVote that empower Voting & other services triggered over Missed calls, LiveTalk for Free Live Audio broadcast over phone call and MORE to offer Free Mobile Talk-time refills.

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Can you talk about your other offerings and what makes them so special?
We guide brands to establish intriguing customer engagement over mobile through Voice Calls, Mobile Applications, SMS and Emails. The special thing about our platforms is that brands can have over 4 crore interactions in matter of just 12 hours, which is equivalent to covering 2 metro cities.

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How do you feel being awarded as CNBC Emerging India Award (2009), Small Business Award (2011) and Red Herring – Top 100 Asia Winner (2012) and Mobbys Award for Best New Service LiveTalk (2013?
editedAwards are nothing but an appreciation for one’s work and so it’s indeed wonderful to have as many as we can, yet we do not restrict our vision by putting blinders around our eyes set to bag us trophies. On the contrary our true appreciation lies in our clients smile.

Also at Viva we believe truly in moving ahead strong and never holding at anything, then be it success or failure, we move along.

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We want to know more about how you innovate to help your client build their brands using latest technologies?
We follow “Systematic Inventive Thinking” methodologies to innovate and create new products. This allows us to come up with market defining innovations without spending a fortune on expensive research or going through a Trial and Error development phase. Also newer technological innovations are a delight and also extend our offering to brands.

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Can you talk about the dream project and how it helped VivaConnect?
Being it our first project – ZEE DID little masters remains as my favorite project till date. It had a massive nationwide appeal leading to 5.65 crore votes over missed call; the record created in that season remains unbroken till date.

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As an enterprise, share with us some best practices and processes you use?
Though we are a 14-year-old company, our operations resemble to that of a startup. We have our checks and balances in places to the extent required, only to protect our customer interest. We are finicky about encouraging any bureaucratic system as that might slow us down and would hamper our creativity. I feel this approach has leaded us to grow at twice the rate YOY, with stability of a large and mature company.

However on the other hand we have stringent data protection policies for protection of Personal Identifiable information (PII) for the various brand campaigns that we undertake.

Also as a practice we encourage our solutions, sales and marketing team to think from the prospective of the end consumer of our client while proposing a solution.

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How do you foresee the large growth market for Mobile marketing in India?
I would say that mobile marketing in India has just begun and it’s not even the tip of the iceberg but only a scratch on it. Around 7 million users are seen to add up every month, 2.67 from urban while 4.35 users from rural India.

Now the brands are giving a serious consideration to our medium (Mobile),by incorporating it with their Marketing & Advertising campaigns. They’re witnessing enhanced customer engagement too. Without a doubt we see a huge uptake of this medium in near future.

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We also strongly believe that the future of marketing lies in “Action Marketing”. “It’s about creating a user connect, it’s about engaging with the users and effectively making them consumers , it’s about re-engaging with the consumer and what better medium than a mobile device. We would see this large growth in the form of “Action Marketing on the Mobile Medium”.

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Would you like to share new changes occurring in the space?
With more and more improvements in Voice recognition & location-based services it holds immense potential in a country like India, where various services are built around it and on top of our voice infrastructure.

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What has been one of your most interesting or rewarding project?
LiveTalk, has been a very challenging project as the product was conceptualized, created and implemented in the shortest period of time. It actually seemed impossible to build the system were in we could connect a massive number of concurrent calls with a live event. It’s our most interesting project, kudos to our brilliant teams.

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Talk about a recent project you completed. What was the concept, solution, location, highlights?
We recently launched a campaign for one of the India’s top FMCG soap brand wherein we had to tweak our platform to provide a very specific experience to end-user. The challenged heightened as the call hits surged up making it more complex. However we pulled it off successfully by executing it smartly and all of our efforts have made it the most successful campaign the brand ever had!

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IT is the backbone of your services. How do you ensure uptime and delivery?
We have built our Infrastructure on three different Telco’s located on three different data centers, along with load balanced servers and on cloud data storage which makes it virtually impossible to have any unscheduled down times. Since its inception we have had a record of 99.6% up-time.

However one of our core belief is that IT is not the backbone of our services, The real backbone of our services is our motivated and skilled team which have the ethics and values of our organization engraved in them with the clear focus of keeping the “consumer first”.

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How do you see your company evolving over the next few years?
We have evolved into the largest player in India for voice services and now we’ve set our sight to grow into the largest across the globe.
Apart from our platform play we will evolve our specialized functions like Mobile Marketing and a few products with mass appeal into Strategic Business Units with especially skilled teams to serve customers and carry out the vision for these units.

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Mobile marketing has taken time to take off. Was that a major challenge to your business?
Yes, though we initially lost a lot of money yet we stayed persistent and saw a future even when others speculated otherwise. That did pose up as a challenge at times but none so strong to break our will.

Now as we are having a good run, the focus is over adding more ways in which our customers can have more banks for their buck, and help them realize their objectives as we realize our vision.

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With new domestic and global entrants in the Indian energy market, do you believe the market is becoming overly competitive?
Competition is always good for consumers, we will offer more ways for customers to fetch more value for their money.

Shawshank redemption

What are your favorite book, movie, and/or play?
I don’t read any books nor do I watch many movies anymore but my favorite movie remains ‘The Shawshank Redemption’.

What are your hobbies and interests?
Business is my only hobby and interest, my personal opinion is that if your work, hobbies and interest are the same you will go much higher in life.

Who is your role model?
My dad (also the Chairman of VivaConnect) Mr. K.N. Raichura is my role model. I have learnt a lot from him from business to ethics to values and am passing it to my children as well.

Challenges and Opportunities of Mobile Marketing in India

Vikram Raichura_VivaConnectThe Mobile Marketing Industry in India is currently growing at a very rapid pace. An average Indian spends more than 6.4 hrs on the mobile phone everyday.

The mobile device today has effectively become a radio, a clock, a music player, a gaming device, a newspaper, a video player, in fact it has become the primary communication and entertainment device for a majority part of the consumers living in the media dark areas of India.

With more than 550+ Million active mobile users and more than 147 Million being active mobile internet users in India, this medium has today become one of the largest personalized reach medium across all media vehicles. Also approx. 66% of users access Facebook on their mobile phones and 40% of users access Facebook only from their mobile phones. Nearly 37% of YouTube Videos are also consumed from Mobile Devices.

Marketers have the opportunity to engage and re-engage with these users through Paid Media touch points such as SMS Services, Voice Services, Missed Call services, Video Ads, In App advertisement and Owned Media platforms such as Mobile Apps, Voice Portals and Mobile websites depending on the target audience of the brands.

The influx of cheap smart phones has already triggered the mobile internet revolution in India. A recent IAMAI report states that India would have approx. 185 Million Mobile Internet users by June 2013 which allows marketers and brands to reach 185 Million always connected users.

However the largest challenge facing the Mobile Marketing world is measuring the efficiency of the medium and calculating the ROI for monies spent on Mobile Marketing. The industry does not have any defined and standardized framework to measure the efficiency of this medium like other mediums such as TV, Radio and Print.

Also since mobile marketing in India is evolving by the hour, today’s mobile marketer does not have the luxury of any mobile media planning tool which can help him make media plans on the basis of target audience, reach and frequency.

In India, a lot of marketers are using this medium only to amplify their brand communication that is already being done on TV, Radio, Print and Social Media platforms. As marketers take a step forth to strategize & initiate Mobile First campaigns for brands, developing brand proposition and leveraging its power of engagement in multiple ways, then that shall truly be the dawn of mobile marketing In India.

—By Vikram Raichura, Managing Director, VivaConnect Pvt. Ltd

As told to Mouseworld Now correspondent

Making 3 crore impressions over mobile, everyday!

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Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Vikram Raichura says, “We manage a three-way traffic 365 days a year through Voice Calls, Missed calls, Emails & SMS. Our service platforms make over 3 crore impressions daily through transaction and marketing services.

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Give us a brief overview of the mobile marketing business in India. Could you share some numbers? What is the outlook?

Mobile marketing has grown to become a hard to miss medium of brand communication. Just over a few years, businesses and enterprises have realized the importance of this media vehicle and its potential reach to communicate with the mass audience. The next few years will be a challenging time where brands will resort to action marketing with mobile being the key driver. Mobile will augment online and traditional media campaigns to drive engagement and community building for the brands.

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Explain to us your business model. Give us a revenue-break-up from various segments.

Our business model is focused around services. We believe in creating a value for our clients and treat ourselves as an extension to our client. We do not believe in selling our inventory for the heck of it, but we sell our inventory only if it fits into the overall brand strategy and the long-term objectives of our clients.

We devise complete mobile strategies for our clients and provide state of the art solutions around the overall product Plans.

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How was the response to the Narendra Modi campaign conducted from your end?

Bharatiya Janata Party, under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi had opted for our service LiveTalk to reach audiences across India, going beyond those gathered at the rally.

The idea was to have people connected with rally regardless of their location. Thus LiveTalk made it easy to access over any make of mobile & kept it free of premium charges or subscriptions.

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What are the opportunities and challenges in this business?

The grown interest from Brands for integrating mobile services in their Advertising and Marketing campaigns, has brought great opportunity for us. Now the challenge lies in connecting with their desired target group and delivering of message efficiently. While doing so, the following distinction plays an important role.

The urban population is densely exposed to media vehicles at every corner, so for them mobile is a means of easy engagement with a brand. For this segment, wrapping services with creativity plays a vital role making it stand apart from marketing herd.Mobile apps are the opportunists here.

Whereas rural regions are sparsely touched by media vehicles, so there mobile plays a dual role of taking the brand to people and building up the engagement. For this segment ease of access, affordability and connectivity (like usage of rural language, etc)plays an important role. Missed call, Toll-free and SMS services fare extremely well here.

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What are some of the innovations taking place in the industry. Comment about your LiveTalk product.

These days our industry is mesmerized by Mobile Apps and myriad possibilities offered over it. Everyone from E-retailer to restaurants and Big budgeted movies to political parties are fancying mobile apps. It’s the flavor of the season.

LiveTalk is a groundbreaking product that audio broadcasts live events over a phone call. It holds a phenomenal capacity of connecting over 1,00,000 calls in a span of 3 hours.

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This was just a glimpse, catch the complete Interview here

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Tracking reach of your advertising campaign? .. Think Mobile!

A full page newspaper advertisement, Centerfold of a magazine, Prime time slot on a Television or a billboard around the city. Your brand must have been there done that to get people’s attention and it might have worked well or may be not so for your brand. For which you obviously shelved out a whooping some of money, attempting to build your brand value and ensuring that sales stay on rise.

Just one question, were you able to track the actual reach? .. Probably not!

Advertising is important indeed for every brand and it allows for a smart placement of your product, Yet how shall you know ..

The actual number of people that your ads have reached?

Who are the ones who really received what you conveyed?

Who reciprocated to your advertisements?

Wondering how? .. Think Mobile now!

How about backing your advertising campaigns with Mobile engagement initiatives to interact with customers.

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* image used for only representational purpose

 Say you publish an advertisement in a print media, where the copy even carries a missed call number that delivers the caller with additional information of the product. Let’s make it even better, run a contest where the caller is also rewarded with a small gift, say a discount coupon over SMS or an instant mobile talk-time recharge. The number of calls you received are the one’s whom you persuaded successfully with your advertising campaign. After all they took the effort of giving you a missed call.. didn’t they?

Mobile engagement offers:

  • A Traceable reach
  • Builds a rational database of callers for easy future interaction
  • Most importantly, a personal reach

Mobile engagement allows for :

  • Contest & Games
  • Surveys & Feedback
  • Polling
  • Sampling
  • Notifications of new products
  • Referral programmes
  • Reward schemes

Mobile engagement happens great over:

  • Voice calls / Toll Free Services
  • Interactive Mobile apps
  • 24×7 missed call services

Simply mix it up with cool ‘n creative campaigns and you’ll have a superb interaction channel.

I’m sure you are already thinking over Mobile engagement, After all engagement over Mobile gives you an actual figure and not just a ball park number!

 

Watblog interviews Vikram Raichura over Mobile Marketing in India

A recent TRAI report revealed that India has 886 million mobile subscribers in the country, transforming India into highly potential market for advertisers and marketers. Now they are realizing the potential of this growing medium and are adapting their communication strategy accordingly. A joint study by Yahoo and Mindshare revealed that 67% prefer mobile advertisements that allow ‘Creative Expression’.

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Watblog spoke to Vikram Raichura about VivaConnect and overall Mobile Marketing surge in India over an e-mail interview.

Excerpts from the interview.

Trends in 2014
Instant Gratification service granting free Mobile recharge will be a hot pick in 2014. A super hit service for India’s cost considerate mobile user base.

Augmented Reality (AR) will catch up, as India’s smartphone user base rises to 270+ millions.

Mobile Marketing in India
The medium has evangelized services of calls and sms to deliver myriad solutions of Voting, Sampling, Authentication, Gratification, Promotion, Registration, Feedback, etc.

Speculated to be a billion dollar market in next 2 years in terms of revenue from Voice OBD, Mobile internet, Ad banners, Missed calls, Mobile apps and SMS collectively.

Challenges in Mobile Marketing
Compliance to frequent changing TRAI’s regulation gets quite difficult as multiple services are active at any given point of time.

Customization of services owing to huge and diverse user base in India as its really important for a service to connect with its right Target Group and have higher engagement.

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Click here to read the complete interview over Watblog.

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