S'pore test bed for new SingTel ad service

S'pore test bed for new SingTel ad service

SINGAPORE shoppers will be the guinea pigs for a new SingTel service that provides interactive advertising campaigns in stores. The campaign will be launched in time for the Christmas shopping season by mobile advertising company Amobee, a wholly owned subsidiary of the telco.

The advertising can be placed on various interactive screens - a kiosk, a big TV set or a digital wall. Shoppers can interact by clicking on the ads or gesturing with their arms.

That in turn can earn them points or special offers which can be redeemed by downloading an Android or Apple app or electing to receive a text message. Once the app is on their smartphone, users can get extra information such as directions to other shops.

If the service clicks with shoppers here, it will be expanded to Tokyo and selected cities in Indonesia, China and India.

This new ad campaign is known as Digital-Out-Of-Home (DOOH) advertising in the business - which also includes outdoor advertising - and is worth about US$33 billion (S$41.3 billion) globally.

Chief executive Trevor Healy said on Wednesday the new business will make Amobee a broader company with a basket of digital services. It will be the first of many digital advertising services the company plans to unveil in the next 12 to 24 months.

No revenue targets for the new venture have been set as Mr Healy wants the development team to focus on bringing out the right product.

"Singaporeans like to shop. If the service can't work here, then it won't work anywhere else. We will proceed slowly, learn and then revise. We want consumers and customers to tell us what they want."

Touch Media Network, which provides in-store interactive advertising displays, will work with Amobee to provide the in-store advertising service.

Chief executive Julian Corbett said the content of the ads would be more targeted, which means shoppers are likely to spend more time on them.

Mr Corbett added that he is in discussions about the service with many clients, including consumer goods giant Unilever, which makes food, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products.

Mr Healy is optimistic about the new service. "Digital advertising has been around via the huge digital signages which cost about $100,000. And they aren't interactive; you can't click on them to get any information.

"Our interactive platforms are much more affordable. The hardware starts at $300 for a interactive screen based on a tablet or $1,500 for a television set."

SingTel bought Amobee in May last year for US$321 million as part of its plans to enter the digital economy.

Since the acquisition, Amobee's sales have gone through the roof. Last year, its revenue in Asia was about US$200,000 a month but "last month, we did US$2 million", noted Mr Healy.

"We're on a strong upward ramp. This year in Asia we would do about US$25 million to US$30 million," said Mr Healy, who was speaking from the firm's new regional offices in Asia Square.

Between October and December last year, the company's global revenue was about $22.5 million.

Amobee plans to work closer with SingTel's enterprise group on the outdoor advertising segment.

One option could involve putting a cellular chip in billboards so information on shopping traffic can be collected, allowing more targeted ads to be compiled.

"SingTel is trying to monetise the Internet of things. Physical objects such as screens and billboards have become 'subscribers' because they are embedded with GSM chips," said Mr Healy.

The data will be useful to organisations interested in finding out what their customers want.

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