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Three messaging formats that have proved highly successful in SA are PCM, RCS and targeted messaging with zero-rated links and landing pages. Picture: SUPPLIED/OUT THERE MEDIA
Three messaging formats that have proved highly successful in SA are PCM, RCS and targeted messaging with zero-rated links and landing pages. Picture: SUPPLIED/OUT THERE MEDIA

Each region’s advertising and marketing reflects the people who live there. In SA, the population enjoys a robust advertising culture of traditional media, whether through radio or TV. And for all brands and advertisers, the goal is the same: to grab their audience’s attention to showcase new products and offerings, with the end goal being to generate revenue.

But this is becoming more difficult when everyone is competing for more click-throughs, return on investment, engagement and brand awareness for their ad campaigns. Ultimately, brands have to find alternatives that are effective against their desired consumers groups.

That alternative lies in telco-driven mobile advertising. SA is a mobile-first market, with 91.2% of the population having access to mobile phones, according to the Independent Communications Authority of SA. Telco-driven advertising is all about using telco networks so brands and advertisers can maximise the reach and scale of their ad campaigns. For brands, this means a move away from wasted ad spend on underperforming channels, such as banner advertising on some platforms.

So, how can brands leverage telco-driven advertising channels to better reach consumers? And what are the different formats available to brands and advertisers?

The different shapes and sizes of telco-driven advertising

As consumer behaviour rapidly changes, a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to advertising could damage brand reputation rather than enhance it. Consumers want to receive advertising that’s direct, personal, and relevant to them. This is where telco-driven advertising becomes especially powerful. 

Telcos play an important role in our daily lives and collect a huge amount of data from their subscriber base. This information can give brands access to greater consumer insights, with the opportunity to launch more effective campaigns. The anonymised data that telcos collect about their subscribers can include key data such as the subscribers’ age, gender and which over-the-top subscriptions they pay for. Moreover, telcos have an incredible reach, with millions of subscribers across the globe. This is a clear solution for brands to move away from broad advertising and become more targeted and personalised in their approach. 

Brands shifting their attention to telco-driven advertising can target all device generations because they’ll be able to leverage telcos’ native messaging technology. That means there are no external or additional apps that have to be downloaded by the consumer. Brands can reach consumers with the oldest handsets and those with the latest smartphones through the many messaging formats that exist such as SMS, MMS, interactive messaging, or rich communication services (RCS). 

Three messaging formats that have proved successful in SA are Please Call Me (PCM), RCS and targeted messaging with zero-rated links and landing pages. 

Please Call Me

The service allows subscribers with insufficient airtime to send PCMs to other subscribers requesting a callback. Telcos can work with brands and agencies to launch targeted programmatic PCM messaging ad campaigns, with benefits such as high visibility levels and cost-effectiveness of up to 70% in CPM (cost per thousand) compared with other programmatic advertising channels. This is a powerful way to target consumers who may be low on credit, and gives brands the opportunity to extend their reach while providing subscribers with targeted and relevant offers. This format is particularly powerful when reaching audiences with legacy phones.

Rich communication services

RCS is the new standard of messaging owned by global telcos. Touted as SMS’s successor, RCS combines the best of two worlds: the reach, universality and targeting of messaging, with the richness and interactivity offered by existing messaging applications such as WhatsApp.

This is all available directly from mobile users’ native messaging app, providing a trusted environment that turns messaging into an interactive, actionable, feature-rich and safe experience. RCS is designed for business-to-customer engagement, making it an ideal communication channel for brands to drive purchases, cross-sell and upsell, solve customer queries, and maintain a two-way dialogue with their audience. This format is more readily available on the latest generation smartphones.

Targeted messaging with zero-rated links to video and landing pages

This is an SMS messaging format that has proven to be successful, specifically because it’s sent to a brand or advertiser’s target audience from a base of subscribers that have opted in to receive relevant information. Unlike bulk SMS, this method is designed to be targeted and caters to an audience that’s receptive and eager to hear from their favourite brands and advertisers, resulting in high engagement results.

The proof is in the pudding

These channels have already proven, through several high-profile campaigns, what they can achieve for advertisers and brands. For example, in 2019, leading global brands McDonald’s and Disney faced a challenge: both brands wanted to connect with their audiences in SA with targeted campaigns capable of driving cut-through beyond their traditional digital channels.

With the prevalence of banner advertising blindness and industry-wide low click-through rates of display campaigns, McDonald’s and Disney needed a new, innovative channel to connect with their customers. This new channel would need to have wide reach and be personable and customisable in its ability to deliver engaging campaigns. 

With the help of a leading mobile advertising and data monetisation company that connects global mobile operators with brands, and SA mobile operator Vodacom, McDonald’s and Disney were able to launch two targeted RCS mobile campaigns in SA. 

Using RCS, Disney drove awareness and ticket sales for The Lion King movie, and McDonald’s educated its customers on the benefits of its Rewards programme to increase food orders.

Results for both campaigns were highly successful, setting an industry benchmark, with Disney and McDonald’s achieving average read-rates of 72% and 73%, and click-through rates of 3% and 2.5% respectively. The results and execution of each campaign garnered praise from Disney, McDonald’s and Vodacom, and brought attention to the growing importance of RCS, as well as shining a light on the power of telco-driven advertising. 

Mind the advertising apathy gap

As the advertising landscape and consumer behaviour continues to change quickly, and as mobile devices become more important in our lives, brands have an opportunity to connect with their subscribers in new ways. 

While today’s SA audience is receptive to advertising, if that advertising could be more precise, targeted and relevant, the results would seem almost too good to be true. Those results could become reality, but only if brands work with the right partners that have contacts in global telco groups.

This is why brands need to rethink how they allocate advertising spend and re-evaluate the benefits of existing advertising platforms and methods. Partnering with telcos to leverage messaging formats such as PCM, RCS and targeted messaging with zero-rated links to videos and landing pages will only deliver better performance, read rates and engagements. Why wait? The time is now.

About the author: Donald Mokgale is CEO of Out There Media, Sub-Saharan Africa.

This article was paid for by Out There Media.


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