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Abhijit Saxena

MD and CEO | 03 Jun 2013

Television today is actually struggling. If you look at youth, how much television are they consuming? Youth today have a lot of options. Hence, television has the challenge of bringing these audiences back and the only way it can do that is by involving him in his favourite device – mobile. They need to integrate mobile very actively with the content on television. It is no longer an option for content on television to not do anything on mobile.

Abhijit Saxena, MD and CEO, Mobilox Innovations has almost 20 years of experience in the field of media and technology. Saxena commenced his career in 1993 as an Assistant Manager with the State Trading Corporation. He has worked with renowned brands such as The Times of India, Zee Network and Netcore Solutions.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Saloni Surti, Saxena speaks about how marketers need to remove mobile from the digital bracket to use it to its optimum level.

Q. What are the major trends witnessed in the app eco-system?

There are a number of trends that we have witnessed. From the ecosystem perspective, the consumption of apps actually happens only when we have the proper device. So, we see a fantastic amount of device growth. The challenge now is from the connectivity bit. 3G is still in a struggling kind of an environment, but with 4G coming in, it will be taken care of. With device growth, people who now have smartphones want a smarter communication; it is not restricted to SMS and voice, they want smarter ways of interaction, consuming content and completing various other activities, making the device a key element. The second trend is the from the consumer consumption point of view. So, the number of downloads that are happening have increased phenomenally. One of our statistics showcases one million apps being downloaded by consumers every quarter. It could be divided between gaming, entertainment or social media.

The third trend that we see is the entrepreneurial app consumption. Enterprises are now adopting apps not only for marketing purpose, but also for internal consumption purpose. They are looking at it, I am not saying that they have adopted it, but they are very keenly looking at how a lot of their internal functions such as admin, human resource, sales, etc., can be managed by a mobile app.

Q. In-app advertising or app monetisation has come up as a new trend. How has this trend picked up and have the Indian marketers got the concept right?

People understand web advertising and apply same logic on app advertising. But the behaviour of a consumer on mobile and on computer is completely different. So from television to computer, computer becomes more frivolous, and between mobile and computer, mobile is more frivolous as there is more clicking. So, you need to be much smarter when you are designing a mobile-based campaign. I see that there is a pickup which is happening; people are doing a lot of WAP advertising as in-app advertising. So WAP advertising is growing at a much more rapid pace as compared to app advertising. But the key part is if you look at gaming, there is tremendous amount of traffic, but whether people are generating enough revenue to justify a game ad that is yet to pick up. For one, this kind of advertising is growing very rapidly and it will continue to grow, in-app advertising will take its own sweet time still, but we have to come up with a different solution than what we have now for both WAP and app advertising.

Q. What kind of solutions are you referring to? What kind of a mindset should marketers have to leverage in-app advertising?

I don’t have a straight answer as to what needs to be done, because app advertising is still in a developing phase. But there are a few things that marketers can keep in mind. Marketers need to know why mobile is different. Laptop is a personal device, similarly mobile is also a personal device, but it is much more personal as compared to a laptop. For engaging through a laptop, there is much more space as compared to mobile. Irresponsible advertising in a cluttered space will not generate the desired result. You have to be far more responsible on mobile. Look at it from this example. There are TV ads on entertainment channels and on news channels and you can make out the difference between the two. TRAI has put an ad cap on it due to the rampant advertising it did and this is actually going to work for the news channels in the longer run. Similarly, advertising on mobile requires a certain sensitivity as it is more personal than a laptop and there is a much bigger chance of being intrusive, as we witnessed in the case of SMS and call marketing. We need to be much more responsible and sensitive.

Q. Despite the hue and cry about radio not being able to cater to the youth TG, radio stations are yet to leverage mobile through applications?

Internet radio has tremendous traffic. But you have to face the reality somewhere and reality is that though there is FM radio on cellphones, how does one consume audio content when he moves out of the FM range. For a consumer at that point of time, consumption of radio data is highly expensive and does not make viable sense. From a consumer perspective, the option is between downloading it for free of cost and a lot of his own audio content on his mobile device, either online or even offline mode. In smaller cities and towns you find enough number of vendors who will download music on your mobile for maybe Rs 100 or so. Compare that with what you have to spend on data if you are consuming internet radio. Internet radio is not the answer as of now. We do not have wide enough data plans yet for India. Once we have better data plans, this kind of consumption will happen. We need a little change in the eco-system and hence, radio is currently using mobile more for instant engagement, like voting or missed call, but not yet for content consumption.

Q. How is mobile helping broadcast properties such as ‘Master Chef’ or ‘India’s Best Dramebaaz’ by creating a platform?

It helps in a number of ways. The audience, which is currently tuned in to television, may not be very active on mobile. But the way the trend is today or the way we have seen the responses, changes things. For instance, missed call voting on ‘Dance India Dance’ got more than 7 crore votes. You will also see more and more people multi tasking today – while they are on television, they are also browsing on their iPads or chatting with somebody. So, mobile is no longer a distant device while you are consuming television. Secondly, television today is actually struggling. If you look at youth, how much television are they consuming? Youth today have a lot of options. Hence, television has the challenge of bringing these audiences back and the only way it can do that is by involving him in his favourite device – mobile. They need to integrate mobile very actively with the content on television. It is no longer an option for content on television to not do anything on mobile. Broadcasters will manage to keep up with only the 30+plus through television content only, but lose out on this new young TG.

Q. Video content consumption via smartphones is changing the game completely. However, we still do not have enough vendors catering to only the mobile video consumption needs. Are we lacking in this area?

The way video consumption is growing right now, it is more from a free perspective. So, it is very challenging for a video content creator to monetise it. There are not enough models right now. He is the content creator, he puts it up and the content gets consumed. But who gets the advertising?

Secondly, the operator is not interested. He wants more and more free content. As more free content gets consumed, more data consumption will happen and he will make money from it. So, unless and until we have a very large platform where you are providing a huge amount of video content and you have a deal with the operator, till then it becomes very challenging as to how he will make money. Those challenges can be solved only if the operators give him some money, which is not happening now. So, now they create content and put it on YouTube and hope that it gets consumed enough to be viewed from different devices.

Q. Which are the major brands that have been investing on mobile of late?

We now see brands from every sector – from BFSI to retail to FMCG, automobile, and brands such as Marico, Zee, Fortune Oil, Star TV, Big Bazaar, Pantaloons, and Tata Motors, among others.

Q. Tips that you would want to share on how marketers can invest in mobile to leverage it to the optimum level…

Firstly, marketers need to take mobile out of the digital bubble. Mobile is a completely different platform. It is a very powerful device and offers video, audio and all services together. So, if marketers put it in the digital bracket, it is actually doing injustice to it. If a marketer has a certain objective to achieve across the four to five platforms that mobile offers, it could be a combination of those that will help us attain the objective. The biggest thing that mobile offers is the interactivity part, the engagement part and for you to engage with consumers for a longer period of time. If you look at television and radio, without using mobile it is just one-way traffic. Internet is the only medium which has two-way traffic. But there it is very difficult to find out who has done what. Through mobile, I can do a mass campaign yet target individually. Imagine the kind of data that can be created from the individual use of consumers. This will also help marketers customise their message for every consumer and create a loyal base.

The other thing that marketers need to understand is that the newer sets of audience love only this device. They are so hooked to this device that marketers better start designing more interactive, engaging ways of getting these consumers on their service or product.

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