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Missed call ad unit: Hit or a miss?

In markets such as India, the ‘missed call’ tactic in mobile marketing initiatives is not uncommon. Popularly seen on platforms such as Facebook that have upped their focus on mobile, ‘missed call ad unit’ connects marketers with mobile users via missed calls. It is a zero cost engagement model where brands deliver content such as sports scores, news or celebrity messages that people find valuable enough to take the time to listen to and interact with. The missed call ad unit is said to be tapping on a specific consumer behaviour in fast growth markets such as India, and Facebook has invested significantly to understand how this ad unit should be approached for it to click in an environment, where people are still decoding how to use mobile as an effective advertising medium.

Maxine Schlein, Facebook

Maxine Schlein, Facebook

“Consumer behaviour in high-growth markets is changing very rapidly and we are poised to respond to that as quickly as possible. At this time we are still hearing a lot of interest in the Missed call ad unit and client expectations are in-line with what we’ve seen before,” said Maxine Schlein, Product Marketing Manager, Emerging Markets at Facebook.

Facebook and VivaConnect, a mobile marketing agency in India, are working closely to integrate the missed call ad unit and the marketing campaign for the brands. Facebook employs its expertise in audience targeting and VivaConnect uses its key insights into consumer behaviour to drive engagement with the users.

Ms Schlein quoted the Garnier Men case study as an example where the right kind of creative divulged the most of missed call ad units for the marketer. Other than India, missed call ad units has been tested in Indonesia and South Africa where behaviour to the ‘Missed call’ phenomenon exists, Ms Schlein added.

What goes behind the missed call ad unit
It is interesting to note how the mechanism for the application works. There’s an underlying cost to the telecom operator for returning the calls and the advertiser pays for it. VivaConnect however claims that its tie-ups with multiple telecom companies in India and the large scale of its operations, ensures that the underlying  costs are kept to a minimum, thereby reducing overall costs for brands.

Further, the cost effectiveness is enhanced as it builds an instant and real-time connect right over mobile phone with the consumer having a toll free experience and it also allows brands to build an offline Facebook community which remains active for a certain duration of time.

The structure of the missed call ad unit does not put any restriction on the consumer base. Nevertheless,  fast moving consumer goods, auto, banking,  financial services, insurance services and mobile and television entertainment industry is expected to best leverage through the ad unit. Also, on the marketers end, the return on investment which he gets is higher than in any other form of advertising.

What brands should remember
There are some challenges to the missed call ad unit that marketer must consider. Marketers connect with consumer where the consumer does not have to spend any money but the biggest challenge is to engage the consumers to the idea of missed calls and build a message that meet the brands objectives. This require a great deal of innovation and creativity from the brand’s end.

Vikram Raichura, VivaConnect Pvt Ltd.

Vikram Raichura, VivaConnect Pvt Ltd.

Also, “the target consumer largely belongs to the price sensitive user segment.   Thus the point to bear in mind is of having an engagement enticing enough to this very segment, building an impact and delivering at par on brands objective,” said Vikram Raichura, Managing Director at VivaConnect Pvt Ltd. 

We at VivaConnect ensure that the opportunity created by a ‘Missed Call’ is not missed post a ‘Missed Call’,” he added.

VivaConnect  seeks to scale missed call ad unit which is increasing the capacity of handling concurrent calls to match up with the increasing market demand. They do it because feature phone users are the toughest to reach because they are least exposed to mobile media but they continue to dominate the Indian market. Therefore, large market size makes it imperative for Facebook to scale their reach, ensuring that not even a single missed call goes unanswered.

The mobile media marketing company strongly believes in the longevity of the ad unit. “Missed call is simply an initiator of conversation, the engagement possibilities are endless. Then it might be used to deliver interactive content over voice call, free game downloads, distributing coupons, participation in contests, meeting celebrities, authentication, voting and so on,” said Mr Raichura.

This will act as an catalyst in growth of m-Commerce, m-Banking and m-Governance initiatives in India, added Mr Raichura.