India has 150 million mobile users, who as of now is less than 15% of the Indian population which shows that there is still a large scope for increase in mobile phone usage in India. In 2004 alone, Indian subscribers have sent 12.3 billion SMS which is projected to grow to 180 billion by 2010. Sending a text message is not free in India and it costs anywhere between 0.3 to 3 rupees. The booming SMS market has caught the eye of entrepreneurs in India who want to either provide text messaging free for users by getting paid through advertisers or even pay users for reading advertisements on their mobile phones through SMS.
A few of such services in India include mGinger, 160by2, way2sms etc. mGinger’s concept is that you can earn money for reading the SMS ads on your mobile phone. These ads will only be on the products of your interest and you can specify the time you want to receive the ads. Furthermore, you can refer your friends and you will get part of the earnings for the ads your friends read. 160by2 allows users to send SMS of 80 characters in length for free, while it appends a contextual ad (as it claims) for the rest of the 80 characters. 160by2 does its marketing campaign by saying that Hotmail made personal email free and 160by2 will be doing the same for SMS. Way2SMS provides an email kind of interface where you can group your contacts and send SMS to either group or individual. Way2SMS has the same model as 160by2 but it gives 92 characters for the users.
All of these services have brought free SMS service to the users, but is SMS advertising really going to take off ? SMS advertising has some advantages over traditional media like Internet and TV, SMS can be very targeted and there is a very high probability that the user will be reading it. Localization of ads is another advantage. Conveying the message in just 80 characters or even less may be the limitation. In countries like India where GPRS and Mobile Internet are not very prominent, it does not make much sense to send ads like “XTravel: New Way to Travel click http://xtravel.com for more details”, but instead, ads like “XTravel: New Way to Travel Call 09867000010 for more details” can add more value. Will a new advertising model called “Cost per Click” be coming our way ? Let’s wait and watch.Original article posted by me here.