Since their introduction in the market in 1995, mobile phones have come a long way in terms of reach as well as usage. In May 2011, the mobile market in India reached about 70 per cent of the population with 840.28 million subscribers. With the mobile penetration increasing rapidly, it is becoming important for brands to go 'mobile' as well.
Mobile advertising in India stands at about Rs 100 crore at the moment. According to a report by BuzzCity, a mobile advertising firm, India came up as the number one mobile advertising markets in the world with about 2.6 billion ads served to 59.4 million unique users.
Satwick Saxena, Business Head, Thmbstrck, a mobile advertising company, explained, “Mobile phones now have a great reach in India, that combined with the quality of engagement the medium offers, makes it one of the most significant medium for brands to look at.”
A typical smartphone user accesses the web every day while 66 per cent expect to spend more time on the mobile web via smartphone in the future. Future web usage on PC is expected to be lower (43 per cent). Increasingly, people want to access information on the go, with the availability of better connectivity.
Sabyasachi Mitter, MD, Interface Business Solutions, said, “Today there are 60 million unique mobile Internet users in India. With quarter on quarter growth of close to 20 per cent in 2011, it is imperative for brands to focus on mobile. Close to 8-12 new apps are downloaded by users every month which in itself is a proof of the growing application market on mobile. Internet activities like browsing; streaming, with the evolvement of technology & the changes in screen sizes, is not confined to PC’s or laptops alone. Mobile optimised versions of websites are getting increased traffic and youth brands can ill afford not to be present in the medium.”
While the mobile phone markets are on the rise, how important is it for brands to exploit the medium well? It is important for brands to be where consumers are, believes Anuj Kumar, CEO, Affle. He said, “Today it is fairly evident that for a lot of consumers, mobile is becoming the primary device for content consumption – be it internet or other kind of content. As the consumer is engaged on that device, it becomes imperative for the brand to engage with the consumer at that touchpoint.”
Some creative professionals believe that it will be a mistake for brands to not use the medium well. Badri Sanjeevi, CEO, Mauj Mobile, said, “While brands are spending on digital marketing now, mobile which is a part of the digital, is not being exploited well, which is a pity. As mobile is a personalized medium, each of its subchannels – such as SMS, WAP, IVR, voice, apps or games, allow a great level of interactivity and engagement. I feel that as a medium, mobile has more opportunity than TV or Radio. So if brands are not exploiting well, then it is a mistake.”
Industry veteran, Sanjay Trehan, Head, MSN India believes that brands in India should look at mobile marketing because India is a mobile first market, He said, “Consumers are flocking to the mobile platform and that’s where the action is… mobile is becoming all pervasive and ubiquitous and the audience numbers are huge. There is a tremendous youth connect [with the medium]. It also allows you to narrowcast your message and as well as use it as a mass medium.”
Then, how can brands make effective use of the medium? Mobile offers a variety of ways for brands to engage with the consumers, be it – SMS, IVR (interactive voice response) or much more rich media channels such as WAP browser, QR codes, mobile apps and games.
Mitter explains that a brand needs to segment its mobile strategy in three ways – content, engagement and advertising. He said, “Brands must note that the use cases for mobile browsing and desktop browsing are very different. Engagement strategy could involve mobile apps, games or branded content like Music, videos etc. In all of this one should keep in mind the limited size of mobile screens and disk capacity while creating user experiences optimal for a mobile user. Mobile advertising is also a key area especially for brands that need leads/actions for its products or services.”
Building a mobile presence is the first thing says Kumar. He explains, “The first part is about building a mobile presence for the brand itself. So brands need to build a specific mobile site or mobile applications for themselves. The second is around mobile promotions, which means leveraging the power of the connectivity and the targetting that the medium offers for advertising. Brands need to identify the content types which their target audience is consuming and ensure that their adverts are delivered within that content, rather than through spam SMSes.”
Apps are one of the most important channels to connect the brands with consumers. Sanjeevi said, “Mobile apps can associate brands with mass market phenomenon and provide an opportunity to not just spread awareness but also engagement.”
Venke Sharma, Director, Arc Worldwide, said, “Mobile is the most personal medium and it provides infinite opportunities from mobile apps to SMS to mobile site or mobile search. What is important for brands to remember for mobile is to get their mobile search right – as the behaviour of a consumer searching on mobile is different from a computer's. A consumer would be looking for actionability in search – like a contact number or address, directions and maps. To get their search right, the brands need to get their mobile site right too.”
Search is used on mobile exponentially with Google the being the major search engine. Sharma added, “Brands usually do not have a mobile specific experience on their website. The mobile site for brands needs to cater across different mobile handsets and operating systems. So brands need to think about what all should their mobile sites include.”
Another use of mobile internet is for social networking. 73 percent of mobile internet users access social networks on their smartphone every day. Sharma said, “It is important for brands adapt their social media for a mobile experience too. Most apps created by brands for their social media pages, will not even open on the mobile sites. So the brands need to ensure that it is mobile friendly.”
As Trehan gives out a message for the brands to remember, “Use it with a plan, not just carpet-bomb. Don’t piss-off the consumers by spamming them. As far as possible, co-opt them. Engage with them. Use viral to your advantage. Be innovative. Be creative. Most importantly, customize content for the smaller screen.”