Soon you could actually be dialling up to hear an advertisement on your cell phone. That's because there's money to be made at the other end of the line.
Chennai-based start-up Airvoice Infocomm Pvt Ltd has brought to the market a software called HapAd that enables a cell phone user to hear an advertisement and also get paid for doing so.
"Mobile phone major Bharti Airtel Limited will be testing HapAd, a patented software, in its network in Tamil Nadu some time this June-July. Based on the response, deployment in other telecom circles will be decided," R Ayyappan, CEO of Airvoice, told IANS.
In simple terms, at the time of making a call, the subscriber can decide to hear the 20 second advertisement before the call is connected.
This service is subscription-based and will offer several options to subscribers - the type of advertisements they wish to hear, the duration for which they would want to hear it and also the option to skip an advertisement.
"It is for the service provider to decide on the way the subscriber is to be rewarded. It could be an automatic increase in talk time or cash back or a discount in the final bill," said Ayyappan.
"We are now targeting the global system for mobile communication (GSM) players as they have a lion's share of the market. In the case of the code division multiple access (CDMA) network, the software has to be tweaked a little," Ayyappan added.
The responsibility for procuring the advertisement lies with Airvoice as it could get a greater revenue share.
The advertisement revenue is to be shared by three parties - Airvoice for the software and for procuring the advertisements, telephone companies for providing their network and the phone subscriber who decides to hear.
According to Deepak Thakur, research analyst at the business consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan, South Asia and Middle East, the mobile advertising market in India is dominated by text-based messaging services.
"In 2007, industry estimates pegged the total value (of the mobile advertising market) at Rs.250 million and growing at a staggering 250 percent.
"Airvoice currently has no direct comparison as it offers advertisements in voice and its technology model is completely different, making it appealing to subscribers and clients."
With a mobile subscriber base of 250 million and targeted to grow to 650 million in four years' time, the cell phone is going to become a big advertisement tool.