Tarana Khan

Mobile Marketing Association to get active in India

Global mobile association MMA is taking an interest in India as local mobile companies lobby for a charter

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) is planning to step up its activities in India. As mobile use in the country continues to rise, advertisers are warming up to the device as a potent marketing tool. The MMA is a non-profit organisation based in the US, which promotes mobile marketing around the world. The association has more than 450 members, of which only two are Indian companies – Reliance Communications and Mobile2win.

Telecom companies in India are governed by the regulations of the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) and DoT (Department of Telecommunications). However, mobile content and VAS (value-added services) providers consider these regulations too focused on telecom operators. Revenue sharing arrangements are a constant bone of contention for which no clear policy exists.

Mobile Marketing Association to get active in India
In such an environment, the growing mobile marketing industry needs a supporting body to address these issues. A global organisation like the MMA could bring some clarity into the dark waters in which mobile advertising is engulfed, with all companies coming up with their own definition of the term. There are close to 193 million mobile subscribers in India and even a fraction of this population represents a viable market for brands advertising on the medium.

The MMA body for the Asia-Pacific, APAC, plans to release mobile advertising guidelines for the region in the next quarter. Laura Marriott, president, MMA, said in an e-mail interview, “The guidelines will be open for public review and comment within the next 30 days. Once the guidelines are released, we will offer a number of additional activities around mobile advertising.”

In addition, mobile companies are contemplating the formation of a charter body or chapter in the country. This includes existing member Mobile2win and a company that has applied for membership, Hungama Mobile. Rajiv Hiranandani, co-founder and country head of Mobile2win, says, “The MMA is looking at companies to bring its activities to India for promoting mobile ad solutions to advertisers. Hopefully, it will bring more excitement into the space – even for (traditional) ad agencies.”

Saleem Mobhani, COO, Hungama Mobile, Hungama's mobile VAS division, says, “We will do all that is necessary to promote mobile advertising in India. We are currently talking to stakeholders to create a MMA charter body here.”

Active Media Technology, a mobile technology company which has offices in India, the US and the UK, is a member of the MMA’s national chapter in the UK. Raj Singh, CEO of the company, says, “The MMA may not be encouraging country-specific associations, but we are lobbying for an India committee.”

Not everyone is optimistic though. The head of a leading VAS company comments, “Why do we need an association when we are already working with the operators? But we are all for an association if there will be one.”

Responding to a query on whether the MMA would consider a charter in India, Marriott said, “Member companies per country will determine the future plans for specific MMA national chapter expansion in India. India represents a significant market for both the global mobile marketing industry as well as the Mobile Marketing Association.”

The MMA is headquartered in the US and has two regional chapters in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and APAC, with members from 40 countries. The association is launching a third chapter for Central and Latin America (CALA) in the last quarter of 2007.

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