Interview with Vodafone's new MediaSolutions! Group

We are delighted to have Frank Boulben, New Business Development Director, Vodafone Group speaking at the Digital Advertising and Marketing Summit next week to update us on the vision the company has for mobile advertising and the steps they are taking to realise this.

Recently, we were also lucky enough to interview Burkhard Leimbrock, Director Vodafone MediaSolutions! about the new unit set up to support the advertising effort in Germany. We sent Burkhard a list of questions by email (so they could be vetted by the PR department) and his responses are below - lots of interesting stuff but also tantilisingly brief in some respects! This Unit is one of Vodafone Group's many experiments in mobile advertising and marketing. It will be interesting to see how this capabilitiy is developed and whether or not it will eventually serve the wider Group.

Telco 2.0: What is the purpose of the new MediaSolutions Group within Vodafone?

VMS: We have laid this out in our website which says:

Vodafone MediaSolutions! handles all of Vodafone D2 GmbH's ad marketing and commercial partnership integration business.
Join forces with Vodafone MediaSolutions! to reach attractive mobile, online and offline target audiences in the Vodafone/Arcor MediaNetwork!.
You can count on us and our marketing partner Gruner + Jahr EMS to provide you with competent advice and support for the development and implementation of innovative, integrated campaigns and partner concepts.
[Ed: The website also has some interesting stats about Vodafone's German operations: "The Vodafone live! mobile platform has 3.8 million unique users and generates 490 million page views per month. It is by far the most successful mobile phone portal in Germany. On our online portals (www.arcor.de, www.vodafone.de , www.vodafonelive.de ) generate a total of over 400 million page views every month, providing access to 3.5 million users which we'll be happy to arrange for you."
Also, buried on the website is the Vodafone rate cards with pricing details for their on-line portal and, if you navigate on the menu on the right, more details on their Digital TV and Mobile offerings.]

Telco 2.0: How big is the team and what specific functions does it perform?

VMS: We started with 0 teammembers in May 2007. Now, at the end of September we are five and at the end of the year we would like to be 10 FTE. Functions: 1 Head, 3 Senior Managers Partnerships and New Business, 1 Senior Manager Business Development, 1 Senior Manager Marketing, Research and Communication, 2 Manager Mediaservice, 1 Manager Admanagement, 1 Senior Manager Project Management + Controlling

Telco 2.0: Why did Vodafone choose to develop this internally rather than outsource this capability?

VMS: We have outsourced a lot of activities to external Adsaleshouse G+J EMS and they have more than 60 employees. But we need a lot of internal staff for managing inventory, crossmedia packing, controlling, client orientated presentations etc. We sell Mobile, Online and Offline inventory.

Telco 2.0: What plans are there to expand the future role of the group? What could the group look like in 3 years time?

VMS: We can't speak for the whole Vodafone Group. But in 3 years we would like to reach the following goals for Vodafone MediaSoultions! in Germany:

  • Excellent team with deep knowledge in mobile marketing and interactive advertising for reaching a world class service for media agencies and advertisers, which would like to use the Vodafone/Arcor Medianetwork for reaching their target groups.
  • Positioning of Mobile Advertising in the market as a standard media beside from TV, Radio, Online, Print.

Telco 2.0: Does Vodafone have plans to become a major media player - similar to a newspaper, broadcaster or portal?
VMS: Yes!

Telco 2.0: Which partners are the MediaSolutions Group working with? What new partners are you seeking?

VMS:
* AdsSales House: Gruner + Jahr Electronic Media Sales
* Arvato Mobile for Mobile Adserving (by contract with G+J)
* DoubleClick for Online Adserving (by contract with G+J)

Telco 2.0: Can you give some recent campaigns/success stories you have contributed to?

VMS: Opel, Mercedes, Disney, Kraft Foods, Bwin, Coke and more ...

Telco 2.0: The mobile platform has lots of potential media (banner, SMS, ticker-tape, games, TV, radio etc.). Which media do you see as being most important in the next 2-3 years and why?

VMS: Banner and textlinks are the most relevant one and TV and games will grow.

Telco 2.0: How do you see the mobile channel contributing to an integrated marketing mix (fixed + mobile; online + offline etc.)?

VMS: That's nothing you can answer in general because it depends on communication targets of the advertising client. General I am sure Mobile will be a standard part of marketing Mix in 3 years.

Telco 2.0: Can you explain the benefits of the recent tie-up with Arcor?

VMS: Vodafone Germany owns nearly 75% of Arcor group [fixed line business in Germany]. So it is just logic that we are combining media power for giving advertisers the chance for reaching a higher reach with one partner.

Telco 2.0: There has been talk of mobile eventually representing 10% of all advertising. What barriers need to be overcome for this to become a reality?

VMS:
* Higher reach
* Standards for formats and reporting
* Better targeting solutions
* More flexibility for bookings
* Availability of inventory from all important mobile players in one country.

[Ed - we'll probe Frank in more detail on these topics next week!]