Mobile Advertising Innovation in Turkey

Many people are surprised at quite how successful mobile marketing is in Turkey. Turkcell (the main operator) has consistently been pushing the envelope of innovation to such an extent that it is actually one of the most successful markets in the world, easily holding its own and even exceeding territories which have an arguably more sophisticated marketing ecosystem. Just as an example, their opt-in and actively used database, has 7.5 million subscribers.

Their latest innovation is an ad-funded RingBackTone platform. If you’re not from around these parts RingBackTones (RBT) are the tracks that your callers listen to when they call your mobile.

The basic idea is that brands sponsor music for subscribers to make into their free RBTs – so far brands include such mighty names as Coca Cola, Unilever, P&G, Nestle, Warner Bros and content has been provided by major national Turkish brands such as Garanti, Akbank, Digiturk and Arçelik. I assume these are big cheeses in the Turkish pop scene :-)Then the subscribers get loyalty points based on how much their RBTs are listened to – so the more popular you are, the more points you get.

And what do points mean? That’s right, listeners*, points mean prizes. In this case, free airtime (on average 20 minutes per month) and sms packages.

So far during the restricted trial period, 200,000 subscribers have signed up, although I’m sure that many more will now it’s being rolled out.

This kind of idea all comes down to execution, of course. If the music provided is cool and froody, it’s going to work really well. If it’s blatantly commercial or plainly dreadful, the people forced to listen will hate it and complain to the subscribers, who will stop using it. From the sound of it, Turkcell are policing this element very well, giving rise to an interesting and promising model for brands to interact with Turkey’s mobilistas.

* For non Radio 4 listeners outside the uk, that’s an obscure quote from the much loved cult show I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.

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