During the MMA Forum in Singapore earlier this month, Asian e-Marketing was fortunate to have the chance to interview Mr. Avtansh Sharma, APAC Advertising Solutions Director for Alcatel-Lucent on their Optism™ Mobile Advertising Solution.

Their Optism™ Mobile Advertising Solution offers, according to him, an innovative business model and creates mobile media that supports permission- and preference-based targeting, so mobile users can engage in conversations with their favourite brands and advertising inventory is aggregated across multiple mobile networks to provide the reach valued by brands, enabling their clients to play a significant role within the mobile advertising ecosystem.

A key feature of Optism is its media arm which interfaces with brands and media agencies on behalf of Alcatel-Lucent’s clients’ to resolve relationship gaps.

As a new business model, the Alcatel-Lucent Optism Mobile Advertising Solution goes beyond simply providing technical capabilities to offer go-to-market support, and media sales and campaign support to advertisers. Brand communications are delivered via interactive SMS and MMS messaging, offering an innovative way to grow revenues by improving subscriber experiences.

The Optism Mobile Advertising Solution serves the needs of three distinct groups:

  1. Mobile Operators - by enhancing the value of your media inventory, so you can become a full participant in the mobile advertising value chain. The Solution creates responsive and targeted, high-reaching media that is particularly valued by advertisers. The media is then made readily available to advertisers.
  2. Brands, marketers, media buyers and sellers - by providing access to a highly responsive, scalable and effective dialogue media that is permission and preference-based and can be targeted to specific user profiles. Media buyers and sellers access a simple interface for booking campaigns and receiving consistent reporting. A single entry point provides access to the inventory of multiple mobile operators.
  3. Subscribers - by providing them with valuable information and offerings from the brands they are most interested in, while enabling them to retain control of their personal information and preferences. Subscribers' privacy is always safeguarded.

The Optism Mobile Advertising Solution encompasses everything needed to participate in the growing mobile advertising opportunity. It establishes a global ecosystem that connects with media agencies, advertisers and marketers, which in turn enables advertisers and marketers to connect with their subscribers and engage them in relevant conversations with the brands that interest them. Each member of the ecosystem shares in the revenue generated from the mobile advertising opportunity.

At the heart of the Alcatel-Lucent Optism Mobile Advertising Solution, is a hosted advertising platform that connects directly into the clients’ network, enabling advertisers to easily book campaigns across multiple mobile operators. The platform relies on a scalable, open architecture with a plug and play approach for mobile operators and providing the following components for performance:

  • IT & Security - The VPN tunnel connecting your network to the platform via the Internet is protected against unauthorized use of your information and network resources.
  • Ad Delivery Server - Pre-integrated Alcatel-Lucent SMS and MMS gateways and ad delivery adaptors simplify the integration of your infrastructure with the Solution platform and reduce the traffic load generated by dialogue messages.
  • Media Inventory Booking Tool - Media agents use this tool to book campaigns according to the geographic region and specific audience segment they want.
  • Campaign and Inventory Manager - Media sellers use this tool to build different types of campaign templates. This tool also tracks what is being purchased and when, so Alcatel-Lucent can ensure the traffic load imposed on your network stays within bounds.
  • Reporting and Invoicing - For media sellers, the Solution generates a report detailing the performance of a completed campaign, which is sent along with an invoice for the campaign. You also receive a report of any activities reaching your subscribers.
  • Dialogue Manager and Ad Selection Server - A scripting tool that enables advertisers to build messaging dialogues with subscribers. The Ad Selection Server can also be integrated with your applications to create a targeted ad for a given purpose.

Sharma explained: “What we do in Optism is that we offer it as a fully hosted and a managed solution to the operators which they can offer as a new lifestyle service available to their subscribers instead of all the spam they end up receiving today”, adding: “Today the information flows much faster than through the traditional media and the way people now look for information or receive information has completely changed. So this is where messaging is a very important and powerful channel, where operators can have complete control and we want them to get the real value out of it. Therefore Optism is continuously profiling mobile users on a dynamic basis, as we are aware that consumers’ preference change constantly.”

The Mobile Advertising Solution was actually launched last year during the MMA Forum after three years of hard and extensive work with the advertising industry, according to Avtansh Sharma. Alcatel-Lucent already then realized that the operators, although they have the audiences, didn’t really know how to monitor mobile users and in general did not have deep knowledge on how the advertising and media industry works, which triggered the decision to invest in getting the right people on board. Alcatel-Lucent has since then worked hard with their peers in the advertising industry to find out and understand what would work and what are the key requirements for operators.

“So this is where we not only bring the technical solution to the operators, we have built up the capability to help them, by launching this particular opt-in service towards their subscribers, explaining how to offer and how to maximize opt-in from the subscribers, how to get their attention, and further to that managing the complete profiling for them. Apart from that, on the other side, we bring on board media selling and buying relationships, depending upon the media landscape in any one country we partner with the local media sellers, which is very important as they know the pulse of the market”, Alcatel-Lucent’s APAC Advertising Solutions Director revealed.

According to him, MMA is bridging the two industries of telecommunication and marketing/advertising, which is quite a challenge and he praises their on-going work. Emphasizing again that mobile has to provide targeted reach, it is often more a matter of where and which of the markets are mature enough for this from a financial point of view. In certain emerging markets, the advertising spend is so low that operators would not be able to start right away as there isn’t any economy of scale. However, the outlook for mobile marketing is extremely positive, and is confirmed by data from mobile ad networks and ad spending trends, due to key factors that bring mobile marketing a step forward which are smartphone penetration, mobile Internet usage and unlimited data plans.

By Daniela La Marca