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‘Call mobile anything, but not new media, because it is not’

17-January-2009
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‘Call mobile anything, but not new media, because it is not’

Mobile is said to be the medium with the second highest penetration in the world, but in India, the medium is still at a nascent stage. The expected launch of 3G technology this year, will give a further boost to this medium. The IAMAI Mobile Ad Conference, held in Mumbai on January 16 explored the opportunities by the mobile medium. The event saw a number of people from the digital, advertising and marketing industry take part.

The third session of the day was on ‘Mobile - Making the Most of the Newest New Media’. The panellists included Takashi Koyanagi, Executive VP, Dentsu Media India; Manish Vij, Co-founder and Chief Business Officer, Smile Interactive; and Shantanu Sirohi, Co-founder and VP, Interactive Avenues. The session was moderated by Ravi Kiran, CEO - South East and South Asia and CEO- Specialist Solutions, Asia, Starcom Media Vest Group.

Mobile is not a new medium

Commencing the discussions, Sirohi said, “Call mobile anything, but not new media, because it is not. There are 300 million customers and still we call it new media. However, the advertising potential is not strong enough to make brands use this medium. What the user is using this device for is what we should understand first. There is a decent amount of marketing coming in this medium, and this is the time to experiment. The voice platform is still underutilised in mobile, however VAS is using this platform extremely well. The concern, however, is how are the advertisers going to use this to the fullest. The question is not ‘if’ but ‘when’ mobile will become the most important vehicle for media mix.”

Koyanagi admitted, “The mobile industry in Japan finds it hard to convince advertisers about the possibilities of the medium as it is a small medium in Japan too.”

Vij opined, “There are 15 million claimed GPRS users in the country and with Rs 52 crore of business in 2008, you can expect the industry to grow 60 per cent year on year. The base is growing very strong and operators say they will push GPRS further into rural India. In 2008, the mobile industry saw a lot of successes and failures only because of the risks taken. For the entrepreneurs, I want to say that it is time to think what kind of opportunities are there. There are a lot of opportunities in this medium and I foresee people shifting to mobile GPRS to read their daily newspapers.”

“To the agencies, I want to say that there are huge opportunities for brands to become digital leaders in the country only if they have their right mobile strategy. It is very important for mobiles to have a very good usable site. To the marketers I say, you need to balance your opportunities here. There is a lot to do on mobiles, do not overspend or under-spend in mobiles. And to the publishers, is your site usable? Internet has to learn a lot about usability and responses, which are very important, integration with the web is also important,” Vij pointed out.

Reaching out to customers without being intrusive

The next session discussed the strategies for reaching the customer without losing them. The panellists included, Zubin Dubash, Head - New Products, Tata Teleservices; Neeraj Kumar, ITS PGPPM, IIM Bangalore, DGM VAS; Sanjay Passari, VP, BPL Mobile; and Srinivas Gopal, GM - Marketing VAS, Idea Cellular. The session was moderated by Suman Srivastava, CEO, Euro RSCG.

Srivastava noted, “There was no privacy in history either, it was only in the last 200 years when the industry revolution began that privacy became an issue, and now with the mobiles coming into the picture, privacy seems to have gone again. However, if you get something in return, then privacy does not matter and mobile is one such medium that can give consumers a lot more in return.”

Gopal said, “There are around 302 million magazines dominated by regional players, and in this digital world, mobile is here to stay and be presented in a different way. Given that MTV Roadies is a very popular reality show even after completing six years, what Idea plans to do this year with Roadies is to take it to the mobile, which is non-intrusive and interactive. This will also give brands a good opportunity through this medium. The challenge, however, is creating value through engagement.”

Dubash observed, “We have got advertising opportunity right through music downloads service, good amount of banner space and can interact with the advertising service, which was a successful piece of work. Every brand in every form owns the customer, the customer is part of the entire eco-system and we are all waiting to get their attention. We look at advertising as VAS.”

Passari noted, “Mobile is the seventh mass media. We are trying to understand and capitalise on this medium. This is one medium that is a personal medium and fast growing. The potential is far bigger than what we can even imagine. It is a medium that delivers value to customers and actually own customers. Let us join hands and own the customer rather than demand who owns it. We are a much more powerful media, which is interactive, personal and vast.”

Kumar said, “It difficult to predict the future and what is going to happen then, you can use mobile if you want to bring efficiency in your business. I tell the advertisers that you should use mobile advertising only because it is there, if you adopt this medium, it’s fine, otherwise someone else will grab this opportunity.”

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