S'pore gets location-based mobile ad service

Local carrier StarHub debuts Singapore's first nation-wide location-based mobile advertising service, which it says, will allow targeted marketing.

SINGAPORE--Local carrier StarHub introduced Thursday the commercial rollout of the country's first island-wide location-based mobile advertising service.

The new service offers advertisers a platform to push marketing or promotional SMS (short messaging service) messages to StarHub's mobile customers, when they are located within a predefined area such as shopping malls.

According to the telco, its customers will not be charged for location-based advertising SMS messages and can enjoy special promotions or discounts from participating retail merchants.

A StarHub spokesperson told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview that mobile subscribers can choose not to receive such messages, noting that this provision is in line with guidelines highlighted in the country's antispam bill. As of end-2007, StarHub has 1.76 million mobile customers.

The spokesperson also stressed that the service is only turned on at specified locations, as predetermined by participating merchants.

More effective by location
Germaine Ng Ferguson, StarHub's assistant general manager of advertising sales, said in a statement: "Compared to non-location based advertising such as direct mailers, location-based advertising is far easier and more effective due to timing and location relevance. As such, consumers are more likely to respond to advertisers' marketing information or promotional messages."

While existing location-based advertising services in Singapore are confined to only certain shopping malls, Ferguson added that StarHub's new service is available for deployment across the island-state.

WTS Travel & Tours, a local travel agency, has signed on for the service. Voo Wei Keong, the company's director said in the statement: "WTS Travel sees the location-based advertising service offered by StarHub as an effective tool in our marketing strategy to target potential customers in the area of our office or road shows with relevant travel information and promotions that we have available.

"Because the information is delivered in the immediate vicinity of our marketing activities, customers will be more receptive to approaching our staff to find out more," Voo said. "It is a simple solution that is more targeted and we believe will offer a better response rate than traditional advertising platforms."

StarHub said "several other merchants" had also agreed to deploy the new advertising service, but details with these companies will only be available at a later date.

According to figures from researcher Gartner, mobile subscribers worldwide will jump from 16 million in 2007 to 43.2 million in 2008, reaching 300 million in 2011. Mobile revenues are projected to increase from US$1.3 billion in 2008 to US$8 billion in 2011.

Gartner believes location-based services will be boosted by the introduction of mobile phones embedded with "precise location-sensing", as well as the entrance of new service providers such as Google and Nokia, that are "keen to exploit geographic and positioning technologies".