Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Telecom Advertising

I’m sure that anyone of you has seen at least 10 repulsive telecom ads…
Telecom advertising is an overlooked field. Almost all ad agencies would love to have a telecom operator client as they are among the top 10 advertising spenders in all countries; usually they regret that afterwards though due to the short lead times, long working hours, and over demanding clients (mostly from technical backgrounds); all of which result in a relatively low quality end product.

Telecom advertising is a very specific industry in many ways different from conventional advertising mostly due to the nature of the beast (it is a media within itself that is constantly expanding to include more and more industries) and constant evolution. Advertising agencies rarely have such experts though, due to the high turn-over of people on the accounts, mostly due to the reasons mentioned in the first paragraph.
Despite their differences all telecom operators require the same campaigns, usually in the following order from launch date (I will use a mobile operator for the sake of the example as they do the most advertising):

1. A teaser / announcement to indicate their launch date
2. A brand launch campaign
3. Corporate Social Responsibility campaigns (showing that they care about the community)
4. Core Product campaigns (usually prepaid and post-paid)
5. Coverage Campaign (to show that their networks are now complete)
6. Payment methods campaign (listing the channels in which can pay their bills)
7. 3G campaign (focusing on their innovative technology, and claiming first to market)
8. Roaming campaign (mentioning how many operators they have roaming agreements with)
9. Airport campaigns (selling their ‘visitor’ lines, asking inbound roamers to switch to their networks, promoting their mobile internet roaming capabilities, and mentioning how you can feel at home while roaming on their network)
10. Store opening campaigns (indicating that new stores are opening and mentioning their locations)
11. International call rate reduction campaign
12. Tariff reduction campaign
13. Mobile Content campaign (focusing on the mobile portal and what content it includes, mostly music, ringtones, ring back tones, news etc.)
14. Value added services campaigns (these are dispersed throughout the communication plan depending on when a new service is rolled out)
15. Mobile Internet campaign (on both accessing the internet through your phone, or data cards that plug into your laptop)
16. Customer service campaigns
17. Business campaign (launching their business services division)
18. Business product campaigns (mostly data-cards, push email, and closed user groups)
19. Focusing on the Youth segment (through universities, and hip music)
20. High end packages (special numbers / elite services etc)
21. Loyalty programs
22. Bundling of products and services
23. Bouquet ads mentioning all of the offerings of the operator

Usually due to urgency, wanting to communicate so many messages at the same time, and the need to claim first-to-market (because innovation is a key platform); these operator end up with badly managed campaigns that are not fully integrated (mostly newspaper ads and mentions on their website and in stores), and sacrifice on the creative quality of their communications. All of the above results in a confused customer who knows that an operator has many services but cannot indicate or quantify them.

Several global learnings can be made from the above, these include:
1. Ideal campaign roll-out plans (starting with print and moving to ambient media, online ads etc)
2. Touch points management (deciding on what to communicate at which touch points)
3. Simple communications (mentioning the key benefit of a service and not listing all of its attributes)
4. More focus on PR and making most announcements through press releases that induce viral support
5. Updatable bulletins on new products and services
6. Developing more targeted advertising to specific segments
7. Focusing more on direct marketing and database building
8. Creating online forums in which customers can better express their views and usage patterns
9. Creating simple template ads that can be adapted and published as soon as new products and services are developed and need to be instantly rolled-out for claiming first-to-market
10. Media management (deciding on what are the best media for each campaign and where each product is most likely thought of by the customer – i.e. mobile payment at cash registers)
11. Giving autonomy to marketing-communications departments at telecom operators separating engineers from creative communications

The objective of this article is to highlight the need for telecom advertising expertise which can boost revenue for operators through simple communication management solutions that do not apply to other categories.


anastasia said...

liked your articles..very intresting am in the telecom industry myself in India. I handle media here..

Keep posting articles and sharing thoughts pl.

Anonymous said...

i work on a telecom brand, its been 3 years and everything that we do is similar to what you've written in your article. a zillion things to communicate but none gets established because of the urgency in delivery.
Currently im working on a project on international telecom advertising; so that we can take it up to our client and tell him that look this is what is happening in d other part of the world.
if you could, please mail me a few websites-- iv already downloaded stuff from adsoftheworld, adforum and our agency site. do let me know if any other..thanks for the article.

fk said...

Hi Anonymous,

I can probably help you out and send you some stuff, but let me know exactly what you are looking for. Are you trying to find global ads?
Send me your email...


possesed by the joker said...

dude this is some info! i didnt know there was so much to it! ur a great help!

Anonymous said...

HI FK I am goin start my carrier in telecome advertising, was looking for some good information how telecome companies target youth..but cant really find some good examples. ur blog answrs lot of points. can you provide me some info on the same if you can :)


fk said...

Hi Manu,

There is not one way for telcos to target youth, three great examples however are
blyk (http://www.blyk.co.uk)
Boost (http://www.boostmobile.com)
Helio (http://www.helio.com/#/home/) - now virgin mobile
If you need more details email me on fadi@khater.org

first thoughts said...

hi..quite insightful..i am a final year telecom engg student and a journalist..was preparing a ppt on teleocom mgmt advertising and found your pointers to be really helpful..do keep me updated..thanks

fk said...

Thanks for your comments first thought, please let me know if you have any questions...

Anonymous said...

This was gr8 Info... very enlightening ... Thanx!!