Mobile marketing is touted as the next big thing in digital advertising. Even as Indian brands and marketers grapple with this dynamic concept, industry experts caution that is imperative to have a well-rounded mobile strategy going forward. Central to this are the applications. With smartphone usage growing at unprecedented rates in the country, the importance of apps cannot be ignored. In the session titled ‘Apps Advertising: Integrating Apps Into The Mobile Marketing Strategy’ at the IAMAI Mobile Marketing Conference 2013 held in Mumbai, digital marketing professionals spoke about the importance of mobile applications.
The session was chaired by Jaspreet Bindra, CEO of Getit Infomedia. The panelists included Girish Shah, EVP (Sales & Marketing) of Godrej Properties; Ajay Vaishnavi, Director of Times Mobile; Prakash Dadlani, Country Head of 3M India; Preetham Venkky, Business Head (Asia) of Facebook marketing experts KRDS; and Aman Malhotra, Digital Marketing Head for Samsung.
Bindra started off the session by putting the current mobile ecosystem in the country into perspective. “Feature phone sales have decreased for the first time in history, while smartphone sales have doubled,” he declared, pointing out the obvious fact – more smartphones equals more potential mobile application users. Though he agreed on the importance of applications in today’s mobile scenario, Dadlani also highlighted some ground realities. According to him, even now the B2B industry suffers when it comes to adoption of mobile applications and most clients still expect a face-to-face meeting and, in fact, seem to prefer it.
From a brand perspective, Shah echoed a thought probably voiced by many, that things like applications are an interesting buzzword that the industry comes up with regularly. He stressed on the need to look at technology broadly and to then decide how best to use it. Giving some examples of the way Godrej Properties has used mobile applications to engage clients, he said, “For Godrej, mobile applications are not a USP that we use to attract clients, it is a service we provide. Our customers are not 40+ individuals. They are young people and it is important for us to engage them and gain their confidence. We have to convince them that we understand them.” According to him, as a brand, it is important to not just bulldoze the customer with brand information, but to provide all relevant information to the customer so that he can make an informed choice.
While Shah spoke about some innovative usage of mobile applications that his company has done, Ajay Vaishanvi spoke about the potential of augmented reality applications, which he called a bridge between traditional and new marketing. Giving the experience that Times Mobile saw with its augmented reality app-ALIVE, which according to him has seen usage by more than 150 brands, he said that augmented reality would just continue to grow, especially with new technologies and concepts like 3D augmented reality, 3D animation, location-based offers and audio integration etc.
Samsung has been a great believer in mobile marketing, having spent significant amounts and taken great pains on its mobile marketing campaigns. Aman Malhotra, Digital Marketing Head for the company warned brands that they had to be ready with mobile marketing strategy. “If you are not ready then start running,” he said. However, he also opined that though mobile marketing has become a buzzword in recent years, it is not rocket science; at the end it is just another medium, before adding that Samsung saw mobile as a ‘reach’ medium and calling it “an excellent medium for lead generation”.
Venkky from KRDS added that every brand should look for, what he called, a “natural virality” in their mobile marketing campaigns. For this, it is imperative that brands have some kind of social component to their application. “Most of us here are very good when it comes to application development. The challenge comes post development. You have to see an app as a product. The 5 Ps of marketing apply to an application as well, though the only things that you can really innovate and change are the Product and Promotion,” he said.
The session ended with Bindra speaking about the popular concept of So-Lo-Mo or Social-Local-Mobile. He argued that the concept of So-Lo-Mo has evolved to So-Lo-Mo-Vi-Co or Social-Local-Mobile-Video-Content. Answering an audience question about the relative importance of a mobile-optimized website or a mobile app, he said, “I don’t think this is an “or” question. If you can have a responsive mobile optimized website then you should go for it. The strategy should involve a mix of both.”
Another question put to the panel was whether providing pre-loaded applications to consumers was a good idea. Though the panel was split in their views, Shah stated that companies sometimes push too many things on to the customer in a hurry to provide new technologies. “The customer should be given the freedom of choice,” he opined.
It was interesting to see brands such as Godrej Properties and Samsung having such forward-thinking views about the way they use mobile applications as part of their mobile marketing strategy. The mobile is a nascent platform and this definitely allows brands and marketers to experiment with new ideas. As the popular phrase goes – ‘the sky is the limit’.