Mobile advertising poised for take off. Are marketers ready to board?

A recent industry report says mobile-first will be the buzz word in advertising, with content being discovered on the powerful devices first. But experts claim marketers may not be ready with content to match

e4m by Ankur Singh
Updated: Sep 18, 2014 8:53 AM  | 7 min read
Mobile advertising poised for take off. Are marketers ready to board?

Even as digital media spending overtook newspapers globally in 2012, the India story was very different back then. However, it is forecast to grow by 33.2 per cent this year, driven by the mobile sector and programmatic trading. Print publishers too have begun investing strongly in digital platforms, offering their titles via several touch points. However their digital revenues don’t seem to be making up for lost traditional print revenues.

According to Carat Ad Spend Report, mobile (including tablet) advertising was slow to take off, but has now become a very significant part of digital advertising spend, largely driven by Google and Facebook, that collectively account for an estimated 70 per cent of all global mobile ad spend. Mobile has grown, reflecting the greater amount of time people are spending on handheld devices.

Bullish outlook

The report states that the Lok Sabha elections in India have driven buoyancy in the market and there is an upswing in the mood of the country. Overall advertising spend is predicted to see a spike in 2014 driven by huge spends by the political parties. The advertising market is to see a 8.7 per cent year-on-year growth in 2014. “Growth is to continue into 2015 at 9 per cent as advertisers embrace new technologies within digital. The Cricket World Cup is also predicted to bring about higher investments from advertisers,” the report said.

Nick Waters, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network Asia Pacific, said, “In India, business and consumer sentiment is improving following Narendra Modi’s election success. The rate of advertising growth will pick up to high single digits again following a couple of years of relatively slower growth linked to the previous government’s policy paralysis.  India is the world’s fastest growing smartphone market which is driving an acceleration in digital and mobile spend. With relative political stability across the region supporting solid economic growth, large numbers of emerging consumers, and increasing access to digital communications the advertising market retains a positive outlook in Asia.”

Digital first

With digital media spend in India being the third-most popular media after newspapers and TV, its growth is forecast to be 33.2 per cent this year, mostly driven by mobile and programmatic trading. Advertisers are increasingly thinking ‘mobile first.’

According to Leroy Alvares, President, Rediffusion Y&R Digital, “Multiple screens are all aggregating into one screen that's mobile and accessible 24X7 and the device is, by the day, getting more powerful and cheaper. Secondly, ‘we’ is becoming ‘me’, leading to individualistic behaviour and consumption of content driving this behaviour. These two factors  will drive the change.”

“Content will be discovered on mobile devices first, but not necessarily through an ad push. Instant messaging and the way content spreads across mobile devices is of great interest to me, and we are continuously building programmes that leverage our understanding of this phenomena,” said Narendra Nag, Asia Practice Leader, Digital & Social Media at MSLGROUP.

“I expect spends to continue growing across all media in India. In percentage terms, I expect digital spends to increase the most. However, the effectiveness of vanilla digital advertising will continue to reduce during this period and I think brand spends on organic, rich, content will increase exponentially,” he added.

Too ambitious?

The report states that mobile internet access is almost equal to desktop internet usage in India, and the importance of mobile in the coming years will grow. With the upcoming launch of 4G services across India later this year, the opportunity for advertisers is huge.

Damandeep Singh Soni, Head, India Business at LINE, said, “Advertisers need to understand the basic structure of content consumption. The biggest challenge for them is to create appropriate mobile content. Advertisers actually face a three-phased task—they need to become digital, then mobile, and then graduate to native advertising.”

He feels that the projected growth numbers are a bit ambitious for the next one year, and India still has a long way to go in terms of mobile advertising. “Technology is growing by leaps and bounds, but advertisers and marketers are taking time to catch up. The numbers will surely increase over the year, but not as aggressively as projected by the report.”

According to Suresh Eriyat, Founder and Creative Director – Eeksaurus, “One of the key things that will happen in the years to come, is that mobile technology will be the medium that is consumed to the maximum by the consumer, compared to other mediums such as television and print.”He compared the trend to the prevailing one of single television sets for every family member of the household (except for smaller cities). “Mobile technology also promotes individual usage that is suited to today’s fast paced life, “ he said.

“In such a situation it is a logical progression for the advertising industry to create  advertisements that communicate a direct message to the consumer. Content across all platforms will be more filtered. With the advent of social media platforms like Facebook and Google, brands and advertisers alike have realised the potential in creating content that is more direct and focused, rather than landing up with massive television spends which are generic. Customised software in mobile phones will further cater to the audience’s preferences and priorities that will push for change in the advertising industry,” he remarked.

Eriyat is of the opinion that ad spends in the mobile space will grow substantially in the near future as compared to television and print industry.

Media integration

According to the report, print media was the biggest beneficiary of the political party spends, and unlike other markets, newspaper spend will grow by six per cent in 2014. Newspapers are still the most popular media type in India with 37 per cent share of total media spending.

If global trend is any indication, one would believe that traditional mediums of advertising have had their day in the sun.

Alvares disagrees.“Most clients are leveraging the digital medium well by following the customer and leveraging sharper targeting options. While print and TV drive campaigns, they also ensure that the message is well integrated across digital platforms.”

While trends do seem to point in the direction of a complete transition from traditional media to digital-driven mobile, Alvares says, “I see the risk of overload trip that could drive a few segments of customers backwards. Additionally, India being a cost conscious market with pre-paid access plans, this puts pressure on the consumption of content on the mobile device. Faster and cheaper plans could surely help in the future.”

Eriyat, too, feels that other methods of advertising and communication will not become obsolete. “Even after all these years, newspapers are still popular among different age groups and audience. In the years to come however, with the rise of mobile usage, the usage in other mediums will change,”he said, adding, “Television will grow to be a bigger source of entertainment and mobiles will grow in usage for instant news and updates. There won’t be a complete transition towards digital-driven mobile, but, there will be a change in application for the traditional media, focusing more on the entertainment and sensational news formats. Mobile phone usage will rise for instant access to current news, unlike the six-hour gap that newspapers consume when they go into print,” he pointed out.

Soni concurs with industry opinion. “Coming years will witness integration of all mediums of advertising, rather than a complete transition. All mediums will work in tandem, mostly driven by mobile and digital.”

While digital continues to headline market trend discussions, the components within this dominant media now provide the interesting chapters, within the opportunities in mobile leading the debate. 

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