Mobilink advertising on YouTube? Or some ISP trick?

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I was researching internet trends (and Ron Paul’s popularity on the internet) today and come across this on Youtube (click the picture to expand it). As you’ll see, this is an ad for Mobilink Indigo’s Blackberry service on the right.

To be honest, it is a bit confusing — is this a case of Google selling ads based on keywords entered AND geographical location? Was someone in Mobilink really smart enough to think that a person in Islamabad searching for the Republican Debates MUST be smart enough to be a Blackberry customer?

Is this a case of Mobilink advertising directly on Youtube? Why advertise Indigo on Youtube, whose primary demographic is still teenagers?

In fact, why should Mobilink advertise Blackberry online in the first place — shouldn’t blackberry advertise their own products online?!

Or is it a case of my ISP tacking on some advertisements as it streams down content to me? In other words, Mobilink pays PTCL Broadband to add a proxy service in between that presents targetted ads on HTML pages? It sounds like a conspiracy theory but technically its quite possible (logic is similar to GreaseMonkey scripts) — all that’s needed is the lack of ethics to do so.

What do you think happened here? Add your thoughts, or better if you know someone from Mobilink’s marketing dept get some confirmation on this and share it with the rest of us.

Facebook comments:


  • Google’s ad services are extremely advanced. I wouldn’t be surprised if those ads were geographically targeted. Btw, Mobilink has introduced the device with their service … so I guess they’re promoting some package or deal that has their service pre-installed.

  • I did a few more searches and it seems the ad is only showing up when searching for “policy” or “debate” (atleast when I checked). Not even in “business”.

    Why would mobilink advertise ingido against those keywords?

    1- If they are thinking ‘someone in youtube searching for policy from Isb fits our demographic’ that person searching for ‘policy’ is not in the mental state where the ad would have any meaningful impact.

    2- My point from earlier was if Blackberry should be advertisign their device online — and once they have me as someone interested in buying the device I could go around look for local advertising (TV, billboards) to find the local partner carrying them. When Mobilink advertises here about blackberry the person who isn’t aware of the device is likely to confuse the device, the service and more. Mobilink can’t sell a person on the “proven” nature of that technology as well as Blackberry itself can with its global userbase.

    3- Targetted adwords are very effective for services where the call-to-action can be performed online. I.e. if you could buy, register for, inquire about, etc. online. We both know you can’t do any of that (ok, maybe inquire) online, so for Mobilink this approach doesn’t make sense anyway — the call-to-action is likely to be forgotten by the time the person actually is near a mobilink service center.

  • Mobilink ads appear on Yahoo and MSN as well. It’s not some trick. They are spending money :-)

  • These ads are most definitely geographically targeted. I entered the same keywords at YouTube and the ad I get is for – a “muslim” matrimonial site. Speaks volumes about what these arabs are interested in! 😀

  • Yes but… why against these keywords? Even if the actual ad database for these regions is too small — shouldn’t this STILL only respond to certain keywords (policy and matrimonials…?!) or do search indexes just work over gray areas that get finer as the database grows?

    A more interesting debate is — do YOU even want targetted ads when you’re browsing? Doesn’t it get in the way of getting out of real-life and becoming a part of the global internet experience?

  • Adnan, I personally feel they would get a lot more blackbery customers if they toko that budget and funded a couple of startups here… what about you?

  • osama, you and me both know such thinking is not common in Pakistan.

    I have a very bad experience with these mobile providers in Pakistan after Earthquake’05 when nONE of them responded me positively when i contacted them for a mobile application which could help rescue and volunteer team. so i have no hope from them.

  • There is a trick in this. You believe me or not i am seeing a Local Book Store named “Adam Book Center” located in Nazimabad Advertisement all over Yahoo, MSN, Cricinfo and many more website.

  • Telco’s somehow see these campaigns more tangible then spending a dime on any new idea. When we started of shophive and wanted to engage with telco’s, we were given a big NO by all of them – somehow for them we don’t bring in the numbers in terms of users :)

    About the targeted ads, we extensively use them and they are a great pay-off! As a matter of fact, since last years Spider ad, we haven’t advertised anywhere else other than google!

  • Actually I think Ali Raza raises an interesting point — there is no way that a nazimabad bookstore will be able to advertise on Yahoo, MSN, Cricinfo and a slew of sites in a row.

    In fact not even Mobilink can — a front-page advertisement at Yahoo costs $27MM I hear.

    I feel this is going to be uncovered as a very sad attempt at advertising by ISPs.

    I’ll start digging some more into this — if you know people in ISP land starting asking them as well.

  • On the other hand… a brief look under the hood assures that the Mobilink ad is indeed served by Google.

    Also, CricInfo uses Admob as their ad network, and Yahoo has their own, but both have CPC ad models — with that in mind its quite possible even the smaller players started advertising there…

    Anyway again, lets try to find some clarifications on this.

  • I believe its based on the country in your profile of youtube. The is a link to put ads up for specific locations.


  • @Osama, when i analyzed i found all these as local advertisements. My Cable operator has started parsing the HTML and replace all the Flash File link with his own Ads.

    i think he is earning good money having 25k Clients and their Main Page opens every time we connect through the dialer. i have only one question. Is it Legal?

    Check out the images at

  • Gentlemen its just good media planning. I’d say Mobilink is just carving another media opportunity. And if you’re debating it, seems like it’s money well spent.

  • The issue isn’t a matter of whether or not Mobilink should be advertising on Youtube.

    Firstly, I dont agree that its good media planning that they have contextual ads on YouTube against the “policy” keyword — that’s really why we’re discussing it.

    The bigger problem is, if Mobilink is doing this with a local partnership with an ISP then its illegal, a copyright violation and unethical as well

  • But it’s not a partnership with local ISP :)

  • Hmm… Sadaf, is that a confirmation? It would be good to know if you were from Mobilink. :)

    I have some reliable data that says ISPs have done this in the past though. Will write about it sometime soon.

  • Cybernet is spamming since long through its Cyber Student package. I happened to use it for dialup and found my browsing hanged after every few minutes to see an ad served by Cybernet.

  • @Ali Raza Shaikh,

    Legal or illegal, it is a cool trick to do though.

    Besides, Mobilink has all the potential to post ads on Youtube. Pakistani Telco’s are furiously doing their marketing campaigns. Customized video shoots, models/pop singers branding their services, patriotic songs, billboards, newspapers and what not. Internet may be just another avenue here.

  • Is there a plugin which would filter all these unwanted [flash] ads?

  • @Osama: That is a confirmation gentlemen on both accords.

  • It’s a great idea. Will really help us (recruiters / head hunters) even to provide info to prospect candidates and shun away the negativity which is associated with the industry / services.

  • Salman, was this meant to be a comment on Mulazamat?

  • Well….we talk here of legal and illegal….unfortunately in Pakistan, we hardly understand it even if talk about Telecos….
    Starting from Ufone when it copied the Air tel Ad back in 2005. Mobilink has the same history when just before the Telenor had been launched, it stole its catch line….the Mobilink head had to apologize later….Warid Logo can be compared with this Airborne logo….:) so what sort of legality we are talking about…we can expect anything from these telcos…

  • Hi Qalam

    I’d be obliged if you could shed more light on Mobilink stealing Telenor’s line and the head apologizing. May I know which line you’re talking about and which Head apologized? Perhaps I can shed some light on it too then.


  • Osama,

    Sorry I posted the wrong comment here :) It was for mulazmaat. I’ll do the reply there.

  • I have often seen Mobilink ads on Yahoo! (mail and news and other services). And that day a colleague of mine was getting Fair & Lovely’s ad on Yahoo!.

    I believe big corps in Pakistan, like Mobilink and Unilever, are spending on Internet advertising. And I believe that they are advertising through legal and legitimate means, and not through ISPs. Can’t say about Adam Books in Nazimabad though.

  • assalam_o_alaikum all frnds

  • You made some decent points there. I looked on the web to
    find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views
    on this site.

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