Guest Article: Mobile advertising riding the innovation wave

Mobile advertising in India is expected to grow through innovation, says Saurabh Bhatia, Co-founder and Chief Business Officer of video ad network Vdopia.

e4m by Saurabh Bhatia
Updated: Mar 21, 2011 5:24 PM
Guest Article:  Mobile advertising riding the innovation wave

This year, broadband-enabled mobile subscriptions will cross the one-billion mark, globally. By 2016, such subscriptions will surpass 3.76 billion users – which is 40 per cent of the global mobile user base.

As broadband subscriptions grow, smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone and those running Android scale accordingly, with video responsible for 35-45 per cent of the data use generated by these platforms.

It’s no wonder mobile ads already account for $2 billion of the $55 billion spent on online advertising – and are expected to scale to $19 billion by 2012. So, what’s fueling the mobile explosion around the world? What does this explosion look like in India, specifically? And, what are some implications for marketers in our country?

What’s fueling the mobile explosion?
In Q4 2010, according to IDC, the PC industry set a global sales record with 92 million computers sold. Yet even more smartphones were sold: an incredible 101 million in three months! That’s the first time smartphones have ever outsold PCs. Why? Because these devices do all the core things personal computers can do – surf the Web, run applications, play video, play games, send and receive email – in an affordable, ultra-portable package.

And, in 2011, smartphones will move even further up the performance curve, with two processor cores instead of one. This amplified computing power promises to deliver better video performance, in 1080p resolution. That’s the same resolution as HDTV.

Meanwhile, to support these hardware improvements and sell more data plans, wireless carriers around the world are increasing download speeds and reducing latency in their networks. These upgrades are attracting users at such a rate that the US, Japan, South Korea, Italy, the UK, Germany, Spain, Indonesia and India will account for over 440 million mobile 3G subscribers in 2011.

When you think about the trends I just outlined, it is clear why mobile advertising – and mobile video ads in particular – are taking off. And why, as bandwidth and phone specs increase, TV-like ad spots are entering the ecosystem.

Brand marketers in every industry are increasingly seeing mobile as a key plank in their multi-platform marketing strategy. After all, what other platform lets you combine your engaging TV and Web video creative with real-time, location-based social interaction?

What the explosion looks like in India
As elsewhere in the world, so in India: improving economic conditions and the low cost of handsets and connections are driving mobile adoption. While India is still into advanced feature phones, smart phones are catching up dramatically. Already, India has around 30-40 million 3G enabled handsets. By 2013, the numbers will jump to 260 million users, which I would call the inflection point in mobile advertising.

Again, it is this high-volume mix of 3G connectivity and powerful handsets, which are driving engaging brand media onto mobile devices.

India now boasts of being Asia Pacific’s single largest mobile ad impression market. Local advertisers and publishers are clearly noticing the fierce growth of telecom here and the growing numbers of addressable mobile audiences. Because video ads can effectively deliver brand-driven creative – while complementing existing TV spots in a way static banner ads cannot – Indian marketers are now directing their interest toward mobile.

Implications for marketers in India
The biggest implication for marketers in India is that, the future is already here – and innovations will only keep coming.

The future is already here
For example, even as India is still in the early stages of smart phone adoption, our company is now serving hundreds of millions of video ad impressions each month via InWAP and PreWAP ad formats.

In the days, months and years ahead, companies such as Vdopia will power a distinctive range of video innovations that best serve marketers by engaging, entertaining and serving the needs of mobile users. For example:
• Enabling users to download branded apps, interact with an In-App WAP site or replay a video ad
• Targeting video consumers with contextual video advertising while offering a call to action (namely clickable icons like ‘Email advertiser’, ‘Call advertiser’ that solicit an action from the user) without interrupting their view experience

Successful mobile advertising has a simple formula: Keep it simply, funny, attractive

Another recent success story (and one which is clearly replicable across many verticals): In January, a mover and shaker in India’s online travel industry took advantage of mobile video advertising to greatly expand its customer reach. This online travel company decided to open up its special travel offers to more than one million smart phone users of Indian origin in the US. The offers were timed to coincide with the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 taking place in India from 19 February 19 to April 2, 2011.

To help them do so, we delivered a pre-app video solution that synched with the travel company’s outreach marketing. The format allowed smart phone users to respond to the marketer’s video ads by calling or emailing the travel company.

Smart phone users were served 5-10 second special offer video ads as they waited for their chosen application to load. Frequency capping significantly reduced the risk of overexposure for any creative while maximizing reach – thereby driving sales with full accountability (every user action was tracked by our platform).

On the publisher side, we simultaneously delivered for app developers and South Asia-based publishers by enabling them to earn several times more than their typical revenues from traditional display advertising.

Even more innovation coming
With these types of efforts already coming to life, where does the industry go from here? A few thoughts…

First off, ads will continue to get more and more engaging – taking us ever closer to true one-to-one interaction. Live streaming, for example, enables contextually-relevant video ads that engage users while soliciting actions from them based on highly relevant, hyper-specific characteristics such as one’s location in real time.

Another area ripe for innovation is the manner in which mobile video content is served to users. Right now, there are multiple competing mobile platforms – iOS, Android, BlackBerry, etc. – and their video serving solutions are not compatible. And, while Flash is the de facto video standard on PCs, that’s not the case on mobile devices: only around 9 per cent of all smartphones in the market support Flash.

What the industry needs is an HTML5-based ‘create once, run anywhere’ video solution to cut through the platform fragmentation maze. This innovation will make marketers’ lives easier by enabling an easy-to-implement, unified video ad experience across any device.

I’m confident we’ll see these innovations – and more – very soon, to help marketers truly maximise the mobile opportunity.

(Saurabh Bhatia is Co-founder & Chief Business Officer of Vdopia.)


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