Firm banks on mobile apps to stir advertising in Kenya

swedishA Swedish company is hoping to rouse Kenya’s largely drowsy mobile advertising sector through a video-sharing application.

VMS Holdings, operating through a local franchise holder, last year set up shop in Kenya and is now targeting local businesses and government agencies with marketing and research services offered through its mobile application.

The VMS Play mobile application is a social platform where users can record and swiftly send videos. For businesses, VMS provides a service whereby they can set up channels and post and share advertisements with the public.

“Mobile advertising has partly failed because of technology. With VMS, companies have the capability to format video ads for mobile users while users still have the freedom to decide whether to view the ads,” said VMS local franchise manager, Mr George Thugge.

VMS Play does not completely abandon older forms of mobile advertising, providing companies with the ability to send out bulk-SMS campaigns to customers. E-coupons can also be distributed to loyal customers while firms will be able to carry out online surveys more cheaply across their customer base.

While the Android, BlackBerry, and iOS compatible mobile application is a free download, VMS Holding makes its money by charging companies that create channels a fee.

The application’s uses extend beyond advertising. In Europe and America, VMS Play has been used by companies and state agencies to enhance security.

The Los Angeles Port Police, for instance, uses a customised version of VMS to promote citizen policing along its shores. The police share informational videos with the public while citizens use the mobile application to share GPS-tagged videos of accidents or crime cases that require quick response.

Statoil, a Swedish oil and gas giant, uses VMS to recruit employees. Potential candidates share brief videos describing themselves in a process that weeds out the applicants in the first phase of interviewing.

Locally, the Kenya Red Cross is carrying out a pilot project in which the VMS application will be used to enhance timely response to accidents and disasters while Mr Thugge has approached the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) with a view to using the application to monitor and report incidents of corruption across the country.

“We have seen the mobile application used effectively by emergency response services across the world and we hope to replicate this in Kenya,” said Mr Thugge.

VMS stores all data generated by users on the cloud and provides managed virtual dispatch centres for emergency service agencies that choose to use their customised mobile applications.

However, the company faces competition in the space from a range of existing video-sharing mobile applications. Instagram, Facebook’s online photo-sharing service, has also developed video-sharing capabilities as has Whatsapp. Frequency, a technology start-up, provides a professional-grade video-sharing app that has been used by media houses internationally.

Although the worldwide mobile advertising market is estimated to have reached Sh975.84 billion ($11.4 billion) this year, Kenyan companies are yet to discover the formula needed to effectively reach local audiences.-Nation



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