HomeInsightsAd-funding is the answer when it’s time to talk Turkey

    Ad-funding is the answer when it’s time to talk Turkey


    Turks love mobile data services – at least until it's time to pay for them – is the message being sent out by Turkcell's chief business development officer, Cenk Serdar. Serdar reckons the Turkish market is a zero-to-one game and says that for most services, with the notable exception of football goal video clips, if you charge one dollar, you'll attract zero customers. He speaks from experience having attracted 1.1million users to the carrier's Windows Live Messenger mobile offering in fewer than three months, that's almost one third of Turkcell's subscriber base. However, monetising the service proved impossible and subscriber numbers shrank to just 25,000 overnight when a US$3 per month charge was introduced.

    "It's very hard to get wallet share from customers," admits Serdar. "Turkey's a large country but the GDP isn't high so users are very open to free offers and incentives."

    Turkcell has had to box clever but many of the announcements made by the vendor community regarding mobile services in the last five years are coming to fruition in Turkey. From live, location-based traffic info to mobile signatures, Turkcell boasts millions of users and, although their hands remain firmly in their pockets when it comes to signing up for subscriptions, the carrier has found ways to monetise many of its services. It's Tone and Win ringback tone service, for example, gives users the opportunity to win prizes by allowing advertising to run as their ringback tone and big brands have brought into the concept.

    "The advertising model has created the means for mobile operators to make money," adds Serdar. "I think services like Tone and Win are going to fly. We currently have 250,000 subscribers and it's at that level because we want to limit it to 250,000 while we make sure we've got it right and the offering isn't over-intrusive. We don't want it to die before it flies so we're being careful but by the end of this year, we'll have one or two million users depending on how widely we make it available."

    Serdar is excited by using advertising as a means to monetise and thinks Turkey represents and excellent early adopter market, in part as a consequence of its low ADSL penetration of 33% and low GDP. "We have 20 different advertising-funded products already," he says. "That's probably the largest portfolio in the world after NTT DoCoMo."