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Skype ads come to SA



The Kagiso Media division of Howzit MSN has signed an exclusive deal with Microsoft to offer South African companies the opportunity to advertise through Skype for the first time.

Kagiso Media division Howzit MSN has secured an exclusive deal with Microsoft to offer South African brands the ability to advertise through the Skype Internet telephony service for the first time. Skype advertising is set to hit the South African market from 1 April 2012.

This extends the successful partnership that Kagiso Media and Microsoft have built over the past two years, starting with Microsoft’s decision in 2010 to appoint Kagiso Media to manage advertising sales for the South African versions of Windows Live and the Microsoft Network (MSN) portal. Kagiso also manages editorial operations for Howzit MSN, which has grown into one of the top Web portals in South Africa.

Skype, which Microsoft acquired in 2011, offers excellent branding and marketing opportunities for South African advertisers, with a number of mobile and desktop formats on offer including large static display, interactive and video advertisements.

Advertising with Skype gives brands a unique opportunity to be part of the Skype experience, which helps millions of people around the world to get closer to their friends, families and colleagues every day. The service is used daily by hundreds of thousands of South Africans. As such, it offers brands an opportunity to interact with a captive audience in a focused manner.

‚The international launch last month saw adverts appearing on Skype for the first time ever,‚ says Nazeer Sulliman, Advertising and Online lead at Microsoft SA. ‚Advertising on Skype gives brands a great opportunity to be part of the Skype experience, which has enabled people to do things together when they’re apart through voice and video calling, instant messaging and conferencing. We anticipate the move will affect South African advertisers in a major way.‚

Says Howzit MSN GM Marcus Stephens: “We have enjoyed an amazing relationship with Microsoft over the past two years and the partnership has achieved phenomenal success growing the South African MSN and Windows Live businesses.‚

“”We are pleased to build on our partnership by adding advertising services for Skype to our digital offering. Skype is an incredible brand that inspires staunch loyalty among its customers and offers a flexible, powerful advertising platform. Adding the Skype brand to our digital portfolio really strengthens our offering.””

By launching Skype advertising in South Africa through Kagiso, Microsoft is living up to its promise of bringing most of its international digital products to the local market, adds Stephens.

Adds Craig Corte, CEO of Kagiso New Media: “”This new offering forms part of our strategy to keep investing in the growth of our digital portfolio to offer advertisers the widest possible range of digital opportunities. It is an exciting opportunity for the South African market and yet another exciting step forward in our evolving relationship with Microsoft.””

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Telcos want one face



The investments that telecommunications service providers are making in reshaping their online properties into customer-centric portals reflects the growing maturity of self-service and Internet uptake in the industry, says KEVIN MELTZER of Consology.

Many telcos around the world are overhauling their websites to offer customers more holistic portals that give them a single point of entry into the organisation.

They are doing so because they recognise that service will be a key point of differentiation for their businesses in a market that is becoming increasingly competitive. They have also realised that they have a major opportunity to shift customers away from expensive contact centres towards low-cost electronic channels.

In the past, most telecommunications operators ran multiple sites across multiple domains and subdomains. These web-based properties were built around the way that telcos structured their own businesses rather than around the needs of the customer. But we are now seeing the leading operators take a more user-centric approach to the way that they design their web and mobile sites.

This coincides with a change in the industry from slicing customers into numerous segments and then serving them across a range of functional and product areas. For example, many operators split customers into prepaid and postpaid segments or voice and data users, distinctions that are becoming less meaningful in a world of technology convergence. They now want to present a single face to the customer rather than servicing the subscriber through silos.

These changes are starting to percolate through to operators’ customer service and sales strategies. Telcos are starting to pull together disparate products and services that once resided across multiple sites into customer service portals.

These sites put a wide range of information at the subscriber’s fingertips, he adds. Increasingly, for example, subscribers can log directly into their accounts from the operator’s homepage and then access a wealth of services and information. This marks an evolution from the fractured and inconsistent customer experience of the past.

Leading operators are even thinking about how their Self-Service platforms should be integrated with social media strategies to allow customers to pay their electronic bills or top up airtime with a single click from within a social network.

Whereas Self-Service portals on telco sites were once purely about account management functions, they increasingly offer far richer functionality. In addition to allowing subscribers to pay their bills and check their account information, they are also increasingly becoming the first stop for service and commerce.

Operators have started to recognise that splintering their e-commerce, service and account management functions simply makes no sense. Customers want to be able to do everything through one interface rather than needing to visit two or three Web sites, or eventually possibly needing to phone a call centre or visit a store for certain transactions.

Integrated and easy to use online customer service channels will be central for telco operators who want to be competitive in the markets of tomorrow. They form an advantage in an industry where it will be customer relationships rather than cost or service that drive loyalty and purchasing decisions.


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Talk for less with MWEB Talk



Today, MWEB announced its consumer VoIP package called MWEB Talk, which allows users to make free network calls and get discounted rates made to landlines and mobile phones.

MWEB, today launched its new Voice over IP (VoIP) offering to South African consumers. The service, MWEB Talk, will offer users’ free on network calls to fellow MWEB Talk users’ and cheap calls to landline and mobile phone numbers. This follows the success and demand of the ISP’s existing VoIP products in recent months.

‚”We have seen a noticeable transformation in users’ Internet behaviour with consumers wanting services that complement their ADSL connectivity solution. We have seen phenomenal growth and by the end of the year will deliver over 100 million minutes on our VoIP platform,‚” says Carolyn Holgate, General Manager of MWEB Connect, the ISP’s Consumer and Small Office/ Home Office Division.

MWEB has made significant investments in its infrastructure and VoIP has been prioritised on its network to ensure performance and stability of the MWEB Talk service for both businesses and consumers.

‚”In addition to the high quality of the service, MWEB Talk is also simple to set-up and users’ should experience a significant reduction in their telephone bills. By implementing a VoIP service consumers and small businesses can cut their monthly telecommunication bills by up to 55% to landline and mobile numbers,‚” says Holgate.

With no subscription fee, existing MWEB customers can log into their MWEB account, register for the service and download the application for PC and Mac as well as mobile applications that turn an iPhone, Android, and Nokia smartphone into a VoIP phone. Customers will also be able to purchase a Desktop VoIP Handset for R99 which will be HD voice ready and will support multi-extensions.

‚”We believe that VoIP is the future of telephony in South Africa and we are extremely excited to see the consumer market shift into the VoIP space,‚” concludes Holgate.


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