"We need to better educate brands on the power of mobile as a medium ": Vinod Thadani
Madhouse India's COO, Vinod Thadani advocates the all-encompassing reach of mobile, future trends, challenges and opportunities in the medium and its potential to be a game changer in advertising and marketing
Published - Mar 21, 2014 8:08 AM Updated: Mar 21, 2014 8:08 AM
Mobile advertising and marketing specialists Madhouse entered India in 2012. In a short span of two years they have worked with clients like Vodafone, Nokia, Star Network, Volkswagon, Ford, Google, Castrol, Intel among others. We caught up with VinodThadani, COO,Madhouse India toget his views on the mobile and digital ecosystem in India.
How has the journey been so far and what are the focus areas for the future?
It has been a great two years with a lot of challenges and a lot of new learning. I think we have achieved most of what we set out to do and now we need to raise the bar. The journey has just begun. Internally, we are talking about how we can change the game. As leaders in any segment, you have dual responsibilities. It is about time that brands start understanding the power of the medium. They are all consumers of the medium but it is our responsibility to tell them how they can better utilise it.
Tell us how you are evangelising the medium and educating clients.
Our focus is to ensure the mobile is at the centre of the digital space and digital becomes the centre of media. The challenge is to get advertisers who are spending so much money on traditional media to make sense of mobile.Mobile as a mediumcan give you the same incremental audience at a lower cost as compared to traditional media. It is essential to communicate this to the advertiser.We should be able to talk to advertisers in a language they understand and not complicate it with technical jargon. If an advertiser understands things in terms of GRP and reach, then we should be able to talk to him in that language. For example, we have a proprietary tool called MadPlanner, which enables media planners to churn out incremental GRP on the mobile.
We are doing many things on the education front. We have been doing roadshows with agencies, mobile meetings and mobile days with clients so we can enable themto utilise this medium better. This is the kind of story we want to have in 2014.
How have the changing consumption habits of consumers affected brands’ perception of the digital (and mobile) medium?
Today, all print and TV players have apps due to increasing consumption ofnews on mobile devices. Whether it is TV, print or mobile, your consumer is the same; there exists great scope to reach more consumers through the mobile. For example, if a newspaper is reaching ‘x’ million households, its app maygenerate 2x or 3x unique users on the mobile. Also, content on mobile is more engaging and interactive. Advertisers should aim to evolve and ask what exactly are they getting from print and TV. Are they getting more at a less cost? If I can convince advertisers that mobile can give you the same reach at lower cost and additionally, reach out to media dark areas, they will understand the logic.Advertisers are blamed for not investing enough money in the medium.But we need to take a step back and evaluate exactly what we have done to educate the advertisers. It must be understood that these (TV and print) are decade-old mediums that brand managers are comfortable with, while mobile is a new medium. We need to work hard at making advertisers comfortable with it.
For a feature phone heavy market like India, do we need separate strategies for smartphones and feature phones?
I think that the question of having different strategies is just in our heads. What you can do better with smartphone is obviously video. Feature phones comprise of 70 per cent of the handset market in India and even videos can be downloaded and seen on feature phones. Also, with operator data it becomes possible to do audience profiling which does not depend on the platform. There are enough opportunities in voice, SMS and even data. A lot of long-tail inventory is generated by featurephones.
With video touted to be a huge asset in the future, can we expect ad spends on TV to divert to the digital space?
I will be biased and say yes. Video is changing the mobile segment. Butwe need to educate our advertisers to ensure they are ready for it. We must ask ourselves if we have we done enough to ensureourclients know where they are putting their money. They should understand that the same audience has shifted to tablets and mobile and much more can be availed of it compared to TV. It is the same GRP, perhaps the same shows. On mobile I can provide more targeted ads at a lower cost. The reach is also taken care of. Gradually, awareness is seeping in and it is just a matter of time before this shift happens. Laptop sales are going down, while smartphone and tablet sales are increasing. It proves how the market is changing. Many advertisers are getting convinced and are carrying out pilots.
How does Madhouse plan to adapt to an increasingly multi-screen world?
There are a fewcompanies we are talking to and a few demos we haveworked on.For instance, if I am watching TV while using my phone and when a commercial plays on TV, I get a ping on my phone that gives me more information about the product. The challenge is that this is still a very new concept and is not an easy technology to adopt. We need to be 100 per cent sure about it and how it is going to work. For example, do we need to have a specific app for this?Also, since consumers keep flipping channels, the TVC has to catch their attention in the first five seconds. We need to work around this and we are doing our own test runs.
Is measurement an issue in mobile advertising?
The thing with the digital medium is that there are too many metrics through every stage of the campaign. You have metrics for number of visitors, time spent, number of clicks, etc. The thing that brands need to do is set the right KPI at the start of the campaign andbe completely sure of what they want to achieve through the campaign.
What do you think are going to be the key trends in 2014? Also, what are your thoughts on in-app advertising?
Video will be the biggest trend. The concept of SoLoMo (Social-Local-Mobile) will also get better. Rural geographies will be in the spotlight with smartphone prices going down and operators slashing data prices. Voice is a very good medium for these regions.
In-app advertising allows you to do a lot more than just display. For example, you can have interstitials, etc. This creates a lot more engagement. However, there are too many applications in the market right now, so we need to be careful about which apps we are targeting and whether they are reliable and have the required number of users.
The concept of Real Time Bidding (RTB) has been touted around a lot these days.What are your views?
RTB will be a key area for us definitely. We will be launching our very own RTB exchange very soon and we already have RTB-trained people in our team.
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