Nobody knows what they can do with mobile: Mohit Beotra

The Airtel Head of Emerging Business talks about the tremendous opportunity in the m-advertising space & the need for brands to exploit the same

e4m by Shree Lahiri
Updated: Sep 18, 2012 8:27 PM
Nobody knows what they can do with mobile: Mohit Beotra

India is one of the key markets globally for mobile phone usage, with more than 1.21 billion people in the country owning a mobile device. By 2014, the number of mobile internet users is expected to touch 4.5 billion globally, with 250 million users in India alone.

After its foray in the mobile advertising (m-advertising) segment in India, Airtel is very optimistic about its future. Mohit Beotra, Head – Emerging Business, Airtel in conversation with exchange4media spoke about mobile advertising industry, its prospects, opportunities and challenges.

What is the size of mobile advertising market and at what stage is it in India?
It’s difficult to say but our estimate is anywhere between Rs 150 to Rs 250 crore per annum, which is significant. It is also an indicator of how much opportunity there is in this market. At present, the industry is in the nascent stage of mobile advertising. In fact, today mobile advertising is where online advertising was in the first three-four years of its existence. People had rudimentary understanding of the opportunities and some forward-looking brands were trying to dabble in it. Today every marketer or media agency has a mobile advertising plan. It is at a cusp today. There will be an inflexion point, when it will explode.

Increasingly, companies are realising the importance of the mobile platform and are going forward. We will soon see continued momentum of advertisers wanting to address users. There are approximately 40 million mobile internet users in India and this number is expected to grow rapidly with better connectivity.

We entered m-advertising because we believed it was opportune for us to make it available to marketers. We have such a large customer base and because of the size and age of our base, we have the requisite audience for any brand in the country – the Mercedes user at the upper end or the farmer in the rural market.

Today, people don’t know what they can do with mobile. We figured out early what we needed to put in place in order to make this happen.

Your tie-up with Mogae also makes you a media seller. What are the implications of this partnership?
We felt the need to partner with Mogae not just in one area, but in multiple areas. Much like a media agency, they have a challenging job – a strategic media planning job; if you have a problem they provide a solution. In mobile advertising, the opportunities are large and Mogae, after studying the problems, provided the best message and showed how to deliver that message. We have an ‘ad platform’, which allows us to dip into the database and find the right customers and then execute the campaign. So, there are four areas – selling (meeting clients), media/strategic planning, creative development and actual operations; this is what Mogae does for us.

What are the opportunities you see in the mobile advertising space?
Nobody knows what they can do with mobile. There are so many opportunities in this space that clients have no idea how to exploit. They do not know which opportunities are ideal for them. That’s the core issue. We will facilitate the opportunity, because we know clients will eventually take it up. Internationally operators have done this, but in India we are the first to do it. For example, you are a marketer and want to undertake mobile advertising. If you go to any media agency, the problem is they will sell the database blind. This database may address a Mercedes owner and also an Alto owner at the same time. However, we will help marketers to do this based on mobile usage, so efficacy of campaign comes in. It’s an interesting dichotomy – on one hand, mobile gives the opportunity for massive scale and on the other it has the ability to target down to the individual who is right for your brand.

Please share some m-advertising campaigns you have done.
One of the biggest campaigns was when Star TV launched Life OK. On the day of the launch, between 5PM and 8PM, we tagged a message requesting pre-paid users to tune in to the channel at 8PM. This was done in six northern states since it was a Hindi channel. We could engage consumers so close to the launch because of m-advertising. This was done in addition to the regular campaign.

For Louis Phillipe, we ran a sale campaign. We actually targeted people around their stores e.g. a store in South Ex or Mayapuri in Delhi. Mobile technology was used to send a message geographically.

We did the same thing for Dominos; an app had to be downloaded for customers to place orders. We targeted it geographically according to their outlets.

Another campaign was for Yatra. The company wanted to make offers in particular sectors – Delhi and Mumbai. We looked at our roaming data and gave them access to customers who were interested. It was targeting a niche profile. That’s the magic of mobile – it allows you to access both ends of the spectrum.

Again, for American Express we did a click-through campaign that had a high success rate – 14 per cent, which is high for any email campaign.

A broad spectrum of clients do realise the opportunity and add mobile to the mix. This gives mobile the chance to act as a ‘tremendous multiplier’. Let mobile play the role of a ‘media multiplier’ – this is what every marketer wants.

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