3ple-Media believes there are three key criteria that African operators must satisfy to maximise their revenue in the wake of the multimedia opportunity: knowing their subscribers, setting and sustaining high service delivery targets, and ensuring all new services support operators' ARPU growth objectives. African operators face unique opportunities in the next few years with their entry into the multimedia arena. Unlike in other more saturated markets that may have to carry and accommodate a legacy of more extensively developed and heavily invested protocols, African operators are poised to take great advantage of a move into the multimedia arena with the most appropriate and revenue generating technology today.
With this in place, Africa, as one of the world's fastest growing mobile markets according to a recent Research and Markets report*, could also be set to experience rapid ARPU growth as multimedia delivery catalyses services such as mobile advertising and content distribution. This is especially relevant in the many African markets where the primary, and often the only, mass market advertising channel is radio, yet there is a large and rapidly growing subscriber base of Multimedia (GPRS) handsets. This represents a massive and untapped addressable market for major international and local brands to utilise multimedia advertising which is both interactive and provides real time data & analytics about campaign success.
Mobile multimedia, with the reach of radio and the interactivity of the Internet, coupled with the benefits of audio and visual which bypass the literacy limitations of SMS, has inherent potential. Part of the challenge for operators will be ensuring that they deliver on the multimedia promise from the start. Subscribers' expectations on delivery times, relevance of content and affordability will all play an important part in making multimedia services work. Markets with a pre-paid bias often have difficulty tracking and understanding their subscribers' preferences, behaviours and handset capabilities.
3ple-Media's MercuryTM solution, with real-time subscriber profiling and data track capabilities, allows operators to map response and viral communities for future segmentation and report immediate campaign analytics to third parties for fast ROI. This helps advertisers refine their target audience with greater precision and enforces a degree of accountability that maximises the effectiveness of each message sent and, ultimately, each advertising dollar spent.
New multimedia services that are as relevant in their timely delivery as their content will set the benchmark for ongoing and sustained ARPU growth. One such example is “As-Live” content such as real-time sports highlights. FIFA report that 2006 FIFA World Cup coverage across Africa saw a massive 131.5% increase over 2002, up from 7,475 hours to 17,301.**
With South Africa hosting the next 2010 World Cup, the demand for such content translating to the mobile device is certain. Operators employing push multimedia have an opportunity to manage the valuable content end-to-end and profit greatly from the value structure rather than becoming the middlemen for “pull” services where they are relegated to bit-pipe revenues as mobile subscribers click off the operator's portal to access third-party content via the Internet.
Costi Manda, Managing Director and CTO for 3ple-Media, says operators will benefit from a multimedia strategy that addresses the opportunity with revenue longevity in mind: "Growth of the addressable market in Africa for mobile multimedia will be driven by compelling content that can be monetised effectively. 3ple-Media's commitment to the African market is founded in our belief that operators have a great deal to gain from push multimedia, even in the short term. We can provide operators with the catalyst."
With predictions of a total African mobile subscriber base of over 351.93 million by the end of 2011* early adopters in the African market have every opportunity to capitalise on multimedia push services through an approach that ensures a steady rise in ARPU along with subscriber growth.
* Source: Research and Markets African Mobile Market Forecast (2007-2011) July 2007.
** Source: FIFA.com, February 2007.