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You are reading it here first. ContentSutra has learned that Airtel will be piloting an ad funded CRBT (NYSE: BT) project starting around 8th July in two yet to be finalized cities in Uttar Pradesh with a 5000 to 10000 customer base. In a regular CRBT scenario, a user pays a fixed subscription fee for the CRBT service and an incremental charge in case of changing his ringtone. The fixed fee ranges from Rs 30 per month to free depending on plan while the song costs approximately Rs 15 per change. In case of the Ad funded CRBT, Airtel proposes to turn the tables by using the average ringtime of 10-12 seconds and place an ad in place of the user selected song. Just in case you are wondering, the user gets an undisclosed revenue share from every ad play with possible (not confirmed) performance filters added in case of playthrough exceeding certain timebands (eg: Ringtone played for 30 seconds in place of the average 10-12). Airtel would also enable interactivity, like in the case of press * to copy caller tune, to know more about a particular advertisement (CTR anyone?).
Firstly, the model can be immediately fitted with current new media measurement standards such as CPM and CTR and analogue ad formats such as ad jingles used on radio. Throw in Know Your Customer norms and the enormity of the project’s scope is apparent. Airtel, besides knowing average revenue per user, knows everything from call-duration, peak traffic hours and frequently dialed numbers (to determine uniques) that makes the profiled base a very attractive buy for an advertiser. In addition, being an essentially closed network allows it the leeway to hold proprietary access to high yield data such as geographic profiling and occupation. Add to the fact that payments to users need not necessarily be cash based and a whole new frontier opens up. With 95% of the wireless population still on pre-paid cards, mobile number portability and lower tariffs expected as new GSM players launch, the self-serving ecosystem would be a balance sheet boon and churn bane. Could this be the telecom game changer equivalent to Google’s (NSDQ: GOOG) Adsense? Comment is free.