There are over 350 million mobile users in India and the subscriber base is expected to zoom to around 893 million by 2012 as per the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) annual report- 2008. While all this may look good, the mobile advertising industry in India is still at a nascent stage. The concerns among many agencies, advertisers and even operators include lack of understanding of user behaviour, target audience, subscriber trends and so forth. Fraught with such problems, the need for a universal metric system is incumbent on the industry.
Although this medium is highly measurable, but measuring systems in the offing are not holistic in nature and lack industry support. Many operators and agencies have their own set of parameters. And for any measurement system to succeed, a strong industry backing is essential. With the aim of meeting these challenges, Informate Mobile Intelligence launched an on- device metering technology at the end of 2008. Following this, Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) launched its India Council this year.
‘Smart Meter’, an on-device metering technology from Informate Mobile Intelligence, a specialised telecom research agency, aims at solving many of these concerns. The audience measurement system will give brands, publishers and agencies an access to aggregate user behaviour data and also enable comparison with other media. The Informate research reports are shared with the clients on a monthly basis.
Kedar Sohoni, Director, Informate Mobile Intelligence Pvt Ltd, views “Although the mobile medium is measurable, the information lies in different places in different companies. For instance, an operator would have information only about their users, and not of their competitors’. So, it is important for a third party company like Informate to bring that complete picture forward and not just one dimensional view.”
MMA on the other hand has launched its India Council this year in an effort to provide a common platform to brands, agencies and other influencers for development of mobile marketing, advertising industry in the country. The Indian Council has 34 representatives from various brands, agencies and even operators. Some of the names include corporate giants like Coca-Cola, Google, GroupM, Microsoft, mKhoj, mobile2win, Nokia, Reuters, Vodafone, Tata Teleservices, Velti and Yahoo! India.
What the operators say:
Pradeep Shrivastava, CMO Idea Cellular explained, “We have a very detailed information available on behavior and usage of the mobile of our own consumers. Therefore, we have a certain measurability available given that telecom operators use fairly advance business intelligence systems. There is no qualitative breakup available in terms of the overall profiling of the subscriber, there are non telecom consumption parameters which are not known to us, what we need is a universal metric system which is holistic in nature and which goes beyond telecom consumption areas.”
Prasad Narasimhan, Chief Marketing Officer, Virgin Mobile India noted, “We have our own internal analytical system, a data on our own consumers. But what we don’t have is a data on other consumers so, for any benchmark studies in sense of where we are as compared to others in terms of usage, a measurement system can be useful. A measurement system helps you not only grow but, also helps you understand where you are placed as compared vis-a-vis your competitors. People could use a measurement system to drive growth in a selective way. If the measurement system is good and credible then it is welcome.”
Universal metric system is the need of the hour:
Mobile2Win's Co-Founder Rajiv Hiranandani observed, “Different yard sticks being applied to pitch the efficiency of a medium, different yard sticks to talk about how effective a campaign has been, different metrics being used on pricing or on results of a campaign are some of the challenges the industry faces without a universal metric system, therefore leading to a complete confusion in the minds of advertisers and agencies.”
Agreeing with Hiranandani, Saurabh Vartikar, Vice President – Mobile Marketing, Mauj Mobile said, “Yes there is a need for a universal credible measurement system for the mobile industry. One reason because there is no clue as to how many GPRS users are there, what are their behavior or where are the consumers because of which the advertisers are not really sure whether advertising onto this medium is going to reach their TG and even if it does then at what time and in what shape that is the reason it is very crucial and if you want marketing dollars to spread onto mobile then you will definitely need a measurement system and it should be periodic. “
“Informate is the first step in the right direction and because it is going to be run by professionals in addition to its similarity to TAM, advertisers should be able to appreciate it very fast. Also, MMA launched its India chapter last month, we had nearly 34 people turned up as the first members and it has good representatives by operators as well along with brands, agencies and so on” he added.
For any measurement system to be successful, it needs to be fully endorsed by the industry. Its time when a virtue was made out of the necessity.