Anita Davis
Apr 16, 2010

All about India's new voice social networking service Bubbly

India's new voice social networking service Bubbly offers advertisers potential. Here is everything you need to know.

All about India's new voice social networking service Bubbly
When the new voice social networking service Bubbly became instantly popular in India - and on its way to making a profit - advertisers questioned what they could do to get in on this social networking fad, and why it may already be a niche-market product.

1. A voice-based social networking platform basically lets mobile users record a voice message and send it to their friends.

Right now, the India-focused platform Bubbly has emerged as a major player in this field and has created buzz for this alternative sort of networking. Bubbly, which was created by the Silicon Valley- and Singapore-based Bubble Motion, allows users to send short voice messages to all of their followers, essentially like a voice-based Twitter. According to Bubble Motion, the service “has launched with dozens of top national and regional Indian celebrities already voice-blogging using Bubbly. Through the first week of service, over 150,000 bubblers have recorded and posted audio messages”.

2. While this sort of social network has made the headlines thanks to Bubbly’s buzz, the concept has been in the market for years.

In 2006, tech company Snapvine created an application that allowed users to post personalised voice messages on their MySpace pages. This secured heavy investment. Later, in 2008, British company Blabnote developed a social network that users logged into by making a call on their mobile phones - which automatically matched them to their profiles - and vocally commanded the service to make changes to their pages.

3. What’s further interesting about Bubbly is its monetisation mode.

Bubbly allows users to record messages for free, but requires recipients to pay to hear them. According to reports, Bubble Motion has contracts with carriers in Southeast Asia, a region where many mobile users are already accustomed to paying for a single text message. Reports add that the cost of a message varies from country to country and can be as little as US$.07. According to Colin Miles, co-founder and EVP of iPop, a model likes Bubbly’s is “absolutely poignant” in terms of generating revenue. “It’s essentially taking a web concept and putting it into context really brilliantly in India. It will be interesting to see how it performs in Indonesia and Malaysia, where there’s a real chance to grow.”

4. Bubble Motion hit the trend on the head by maintaining a focus on India.

India has not adopted 3G and so mobile social networking hasn’t yet taken off. But by January 2010 the country had 545 million mobile phones in use, representing 46 per cent of the population. Attracting just a sliver of that population creates a moneymaking business. “The reason why blogging is relatively unsuccessful here is because people find it hard to just sit at one place for a long time while being exposed to so much text content,” says Samyak Chakrabarty, managing director of the Electronic Youth Media Group. “Therefore, such an innovation appeals to the larger part of the population since they can connect with people, their views and updates while on the move.”

5. Advertising opportunities related to Bubbly are now available, but, as with any platform, companies must beware of spamming.

Effective methods include sending consenting networkers discount and sales opportunities. Brands can also get involved in a more fun manner. “You could have a celebrity brand ambassador who can leave messages for the brand’s followers. If that’s directed to you, that’s exciting and it can be made to be personal,” says Nico Abbruzzese, head of digital for Maxus Asia-Pacific. “If the cricket star-of-the-moment says, ‘come out and play and wear Reebok shoes’, that’s an endorsement and sponsorship initiative that can work within the platform.”

6. However, analysts say a similar model might not work everywhere.

In the West, not only are mobile users unaccustomed to paying per single message, but voice messaging itself has become unpopular. Frederick Saurat, co-founder of TheTMSWay adds that there are other practical problems: “In the US, the firm SEESMIC tried to launch a video networking platform where people could record and send videos and voice messages, but the company failed.”

What it means for...

> Marketers can take advantage of voice-based social networking by personalising messages to their audiences, delivering relevant deals and opportunities to consenting users.

Brands can further engage their target audiences by getting brand ambassadors involved, making messaging a fun and cool interactive experience.

Brands can also have fun with their audiences by engaging them in games and other networking activities.

> Networking websites that don’t have their own voice capability can adopt these services for a fee, taking the headache out of contracting area carriers.

A company such as could use Bubbly to link interested parties through these messages to make a more impactful introduction - and it can be done anonymously without divulging personal telephone numbers.

Got a view?
Email [email protected]

This article was originally published in the 8 April 2010 issue of Media.
Campaign Asia

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