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Telecom, content cos need to ally for product differentiation

MUMBAI: The Advertising Club Bombay's Value Creation seminar on marketing entertainment and their growing inter-dependence last weekend threw up a possibility that telecom, entertainment and content development companies will forge alliances to provide product differentiation and increase penetration in an increasingly competitive scenario.

Bharti Enterprises director, marketing and corporate communications, Hemant Sachdev, while speaking on "Marketing can have more than fun with entertainment - it can help sell more", said the real challenge in the future would not be about leveraging the abundant technology but about packaging content and entertainment to cater to the needs of discerning consumers. He added that content tie-ups need not be exclusive arrangements and would entail payment towards intellectual property rights. He urged telecom operators, entertainment companies and content developers to work out a revenue sharing arrangement for a win-win situation.

Sachdev claimed that the need of the hour in the telecom sector was a 360 degrees experience as against the classical product delivery; redefining the value proposition and going beyond the core product. He added that entertainment would play a vital role in offering a 360 degrees experience and creating value for the consumer. However, the creation of this value must be sustainable on a long-term basis He cited the examples of Walt Disney and McDonald's that used the complete family entertainment experience proposition to increase sales.

"Potentially, the Indian consumer has not been exposed to the entire gamut of entertainment opportunities. Effective usage could increase the ARPU (average revenue per user) substantially," said Sachdev. He stated that wireless data (SMS, SMS-based data, helplines, m-banking, value-added features such as fun messages, cricket updates, astrology, infotainment, entertainment, stock updates, music downloads, ring-tones and logos) would eventually outstrip the traditional voice-based services. He pointed out that smaller countries like the Philippines had shown a tremendous growth of pace in value-added mobile phone services such as anonymous SMS; encrypted SMS; Lotto and sweepstakes; crazy ring-tones (animal sounds); personalized logos and word logos; Wassup happenings around the locality; dream analysis, astrology, predictions, compatibility and others.

In the case of Airtel, over 60 million SMS messages are sent every day and 50 per cent of the subscriber base uses SMS; the traffic grows by 15 per cent every month; an average of 25 SMS messages per month per subscribers and five per cent of the service revenues are contributed by SMS, claimed Sachdev. The entertainment and financial services account for 75 per cent of all SMS based service traffic. The top ones amongst the others include ring tones (16 per cent) and logos.

Airtel has used entertainment-based promotions to make an impact on its targeted audiences. This strategy involved the use of contests involving movie tickets and film stars such as Shah Rukh Khan. "Shah Rukh Khan was a living example of our promise "Magic hain mumkin" as he had climbed the peaks of popularity from literally the ground level," added Sachdev.

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