According to Gartner, global mobile ad spend is forecast to reach $18 billion in 2014, up from the estimated $13.1 billion in 2013 – a 40 per cent YoY surge. A similar study by Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), in partnership with exchange4media, forecast the mobile ad market in India to reach Rs 430 crore by 2014, up from an estimated Rs 300 crore in 2013. Other studies have also been similarly optimistic. Though no one doubts that the mobile is the platform of the future, we thought of asking the people who actually plan advertising and marketing spends – the marketing heads of brands – what they think mobile advertising can achieve in 2014.
Samsung has always been a heavy spender on the mobile platform. Perhaps, being a technology company itself, it understands the medium better than others. Speaking about Samsung’s plans for mobile in 2014, Aman Malhotra, Head, Digital Marketing (Mobile Business), Samsung India Electronics said, “We expect our mobile ad spends to be about 20 per cent of our digital budget this year. This is almost a doubling over last year’s budget.” When asked what he felt about the predicted mobile ad spends for 2014 in India, Malhotra replied that it is quite possible to achieve that figure given the rate of adoption in the country.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Jaimit Doshi, SVP (Marketing), Kotak Securities, who also expects his mobile budget to be 20 per cent of the total digital budget. Though he would not be drawn into speculating about numbers, he said, “The mobile is without doubt the future. I can’t talk about figures (for ad spends), but it will be huge.”
Amit Tiwari, Director, Country Head (Media), Philips India also felt that in the future, mobile will be the medium to invest in. “2014 will be a crucial year because we will see new technologies getting embedded in the mobile. From 2014 onwards, this will be biggest and most engaging medium for people,” he added.
Proponents of the mobile single out the high accountability of the medium as a chief benefit as compared to other media. As Vinod Thadani, CEO, Madhouse put it, “The thing with mobile is that there are too many metrics. You can literally measure anything you want on the mobile.” However, some advertisers, though they agree on the potential of the medium, still feel there is a bit of work left to be done.
For example, Amit Ghatak, GM (Marketing), CavinKare thought that there is still room for improvement on the measurability aspect. “It’s a very upcoming and interesting platform. The benefit of the mobile is that it provides undisturbed viewership. As long as we (brands) can measure something, it is scalable. When more and more people start investing the medium, there will be more measurement tools that will come up, measurability will become more scientific and more generally acceptable and this will only lead to growth,” he opined.
In a similar vein, Sandeep Tarkas, President (Customer Strategy), Future Group and CEO (Future Media & T24) felt that the industry still needs to crack the medium. He referred to the learning process involved with traditional media such as TV and radio, commenting that brands would take some time to work out what best suits the mobile. However, he added, “Hopefully, we will see some movement on the mobile side this year. I do believe that it will be one of the most important platforms in the coming years.”
HDFC Life is another company that has strong investments in the digital medium. In fact, in an earlier interview with exchange4media, Sanjay Tripathy, Senior Executive VP (Marketing, Product & Direct Channels), HDFC Life had admitted that the insurance major is looking to become a digitally focussed organisation. When asked about his thoughts on mobile marketing in 2014, Tripathy commented that with internet users in India expected to reach 243 million in 2014, it represents a significant opportunity both from a branding and a direct response perspective. “As an organisation, we have already made considerable investments in fortifying our digital assets to cater to the surge in mobile traffic and will continue to invest in this direction. We are seeing a steady increase in mobile traffic with a 20 per cent increase in hits to the website QoQ,” he added.
So, does he think the figure of Rs 430 crore is achievable? Tripathy wouldn’t be drawn into conjecture. However, he pointed out that Internet in India took over a decade to move from 10 million to reach the 100-million mark, but only three years to add another 100 million. “As advertisers seek a metrics-driven alternative for television, mobile has emerged as the answer in the form of a second-screen for video advertising. ‘Narrow-casting’ presents the opportunity to relay targeted video advertising to the intended demographic,” he added.
So, it seems that even advertisers are very optimistic about the mobile medium in 2014, with two having outright admitted that they are increasing their mobile expenditure. Will the figure of Rs 430 crore be achievable? We will have to wait and see, but with the general sentiment in the industry right now, it just might be.