Pay per eye­ball

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & Technology -

MO­BILE AD­VER­TIS­ING START-UP Eye­balls Mo­bile, which launched this month, is in­ter­est­ing – for three rea­sons. First, re­search house BMI-TechKnowl­edge re­cently fore­cast that South Africa’s mo­bile ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket would grow to be­tween R1,3bn and R2,15bn, with the most likely sce­nario be­ing a R1,7bn mar­ket by 2012. Eye­balls be­lieves it has a tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced and rel­a­tively unique propo­si­tion in that mar­ket.

Sec­ond, AltX-listed com­pany Huge Group bought a 25% stake in March and was seen brim­ming with ex­cite­ment at the prospects for the busi­ness. It has the op­tion of in­creas­ing that to 40% over the next two years.

Third, aside from the prospects for the in­dus­try gen­er­ally – and Huge’s keen in­volve­ment – the start-up is chaired by for­mer man­ag­ing ex­ec­u­tive for brand and ad­ver­tis­ing at Vo­da­com, An­dré Bey­ers.

Bey­ers be­gan his own con­sul­tancy af­ter leav­ing Vo­da­com but be­came in­volved with Eye­balls ear­lier this year. He’s now spend­ing roughly 80% of his time at the busi­ness. The level of com­mit­ment from a man of his cal­i­bre in it­self sug­gests he sees huge po­ten­tial, al­though Bey­ers is quick to point out the com­pany is tak­ing things one step at a time. But make no mis­take it does in­deed have global as­pi­ra­tions.

Eye­balls launched this month in a low key man­ner, open­ing its web­site to reg­is­tra­tions. How­ever, it goes to mar­ket soon with an ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign that will be mostly be­low the line but will also in­clude some ra­dio ad­ver­tis­ing. It hopes to at­tract 50 000 reg­is­tered users in the first month or two.

Bey­ers says many brands are ex­per­i­ment­ing as to how to cre­ate a groundswell around a par­tic­u­lar prod­uct with­out spend­ing a lot of money. “It’s all about care­fully pick­ing where you’ll in­flu­ence and al­low­ing the mes­sage to seed it­self.”

Clearly ex­cited about po­ten­tial. An­dré Bey­ers

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