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Oct 05, 2009 15:41 EEST
October 5 (SeeNews) - UK-based Velti, a provider of value-added services for wireless carriers, plans to bolster its leading position on the Bulgarian market as the mobile marketing and advertising sector continues to grow amidst global economic downturn, the company's CEO said.
Velti has an active mergers and acquisitions (M&A) strategy but, for the moment, plans no investments in companies based in Southeastern Europe (SEE), Alexandros Moukas told SeeNews in an interview.
Founded in 2001, Velti (www.velti.com) employs over 400 in 35 countries worldwide. In 2006 it was listed on London’s AIM market. The company develops and implements mobile marketing and advertising solutions for mobile operators, advertising agencies, brands and media groups.
Here is what Moukas said:
Q: Has the economic downturn affected your business and what have you done to cushion the impact of the crisis?
A: The mobile marketing and advertising sector has shown a great resilience in the financial downturn and continues to grow at a time when other traditional and digital media channels are showing signs of shrinking or stalling. According to some analysts, the percentage of companies’ digital marketing budget allocated to the mobile channel is set to rise from 18% in 2008, to 30% in 2010, which clearly is an opportunity for us. Our trading statements show we increased revenues by 164% between 2007 and 2008 – to around 52.5 million euro ($76.8 million) in 2008 from 19.9 million euro in 2007 – as companies aim to use mobile as a more measurable and accountable medium for their advertising and marketing communications.
Q: What is your company's business strategy in this economic environment?
A: Velti has a very strong global footprint which encompasses around 35 countries now, which in turn includes some of the most vibrant and rapidly growing mobile markets in the world. We have sales presence in the burgeoning BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), as well as a significant mobile marketing joint venture Ansible Mobile - headquartered in the US - with leading advertising group IPG. The company has completed projects with major companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Microsoft, Verizon, Western Union, Wrigley’s and Bayer. We also have another joint venture with leading Indian group HT Media and major investment in China’s largest mobile advertising exchange, CASEE, which now serves more than one billion mobile adverts a month. So, Velti has extensive operator, brand and agency relationships across developed and emerging markets worldwide; including one of the most compelling mobile services for retailing in the world, which is looked after for Argos in the UK. The ‘Text and Take Home’ service that we provide Argos with has reserved more than 100 million British pounds' ($159.4 million/109 million euro) worth of products since its launch in 2005 and is set to grow as we introduce new services for prepaid phone activation, amongst other things. All of these developments, alongside the work of Velti’s world class sales team, positions us very strongly for continued growth in a growth market.
Q: Do you plan to further expand your presence in SEE? Do you plan any acquisitions?
A: We have an active M&A strategy, as our recent acquisition of leading mobile advertising routing technology provider Ad Infuse shows, but we have no plans for more investment in companies in the SEE region. Although that’s not to say it couldn’t happen. One thing we’ve noticed in the current climate is that mobile marketing technology companies that previously relied heavily on funding are, in some cases, coming unstuck. As funding becomes tougher to come by these companies can become open to acquisition, which provides companies like Velti with an opportunity, especially when the technology or footprint of that company is complementary to ours.
Q: Why has the mobile channel become so important?
A: In today’s economic climate brands are exerting budgetary constraints and demanding more accountability from the media they use to convey their message, which is where mobile media and Velti comes into its own. Not only do Velti’s mobile solutions enable a medium that can be easily analysed to understand return on investment, it can make measurable channels like print, TV or radio that were difficult to measure previously. In addition, Velti’s technology is providing mobile operators with powerful metrics and insights into their subscriber bases, whether they are post- or pre-paid, to create meaningful communications, deliver value, increase revenues and ultimately, inspire loyalty. Velti technology provides marketers and advertisers with a clear picture of how much each customer interaction costs and allows brands to enter a conversation with their audience when it’s most convenient to them. Through this level of consumer understanding Velti can create mobile or brand communities to form the basis for long-term loyalty campaigns for operators or brands.
Q: What is your particular plan for Bulgaria?
A: The plan for Bulgaria is to continue bolstering our position as the leading mobile value-added services provider in the country. As we continue to innovate and deliver firsts in the country, more and more leading brands and mobile operators are turning to Velti for their mobile marketing and advertising needs. For instance, Velti is the only provider of the cutting edge 2D bar code technology and, consequently, innovative brands such as Becks and J&Bs have turned to us to deliver great customer engagement initiatives at parties and events across the country. We will also aim to build on the key mobile marketing and advertising projects we’ve already delivered for leading mobile operators M-Tel, Globul and Vivacom.
Q: How can Bulgarian companies benefit from Mobile Marketing?
A: Leading brands in Bulgaria are increasingly turning to the mobile channel to deliver great results and unrivalled customer interaction. Velti recently powered the mobile element of Coca Cola's Happiness Factory campaign across Bulgaria and the results showed that participation via mobile was 2.5 times higher than compared to online. The campaign was a great success in terms of customer engagement, creating the largest customer database for a brand from mobile activity, which provides a great community of users for future mobile marketing and advertising offerings from Coca Cola. It’s not only brands and operators that have turned to Velti in Bulgaria, we recently announced our involvement with the country’s National Revenue Agency (NRA) for a pilot SMS service, reminding individuals and companies to pay tax and insurance bills in a timely manner. If this is a success it will be something we roll out as a national initiative for all tax payers in Bulgaria. So it’s not just brand awareness, recognition and customer interaction that mobile can facilitate; the service for the NRA is a great example of how something as simple as SMS reminders can provide a trigger to save resources and administrative costs within the public sector.
Q: What are the development prospects for your industry in the SEE region?
A: We view the prospects as being very strong, the SEE countries have provided Velti with a strong base for us to initiate growth worldwide and hopefully it will continue to do so. We will continue to develop our service provision and technology and in line with that will extend our platform to the most innovative brands, operators and ad agencies in the region.
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