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Guest Column: Ignore mobile advertising at your own peril

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Guest Column: Ignore mobile advertising at your own peril

If year 2010-2011 saw the explosion of various e-commerce companies going mainstream with most of the brands attracting customers online, then 2012 has raised curtains on a new era of smartphones. The year powered smartphones and tablets as the screens of choice for even ‘Aam Aadmi’ and fuelled unprecedented demand for content, social interaction and entertainment; thus, giving rise to mobile advertising and infuse of mobile value-added services.

From merely being a device where you can dial a number and connect to somebody, there are now dozens of application, games and features to enhance your mobile experience. Smartphones have revolutionised the use of mobile phones with easy to access internet, the ability to send and receive emails, etc. on the move. But besides this, it has created an entirely new method of advertising – mobile advertising aka as display advertising. This concept in India has grown and expanded considerably over the past one year and continues to grow.

Handsets are economical to most people and with the availability of data plans for cell phones, communication has reached a completely different level altogether. Now, through cell phones people can not only connect and interact with people but also surf the internet, send and receive emails, listen to music, access social networking sites, etc. It can literally be seen as a mobile laptop!

Mobile advertising is not a new proposition in the Indian context, though many believe that it is yet to garner its dues in terms of attracting a large chunk of marketing spends. The digital industry has been growing at a rate of over 40 per cent until the last quarter of 2011, but unfortunately gets a very small share from the Rs 266 billion advertising industry in India. But at the same time, it furnishes more space for growth and experiments by industry players.

India has, however, emerged as the largest mobile advertising destination in the Asia Pacific region in 2011. Mobile advertising in India stands at about Rs 100 crore at the moment. With a growth rate of more than 44 per cent and 5792 million ad impressions served, this standing is way ahead of its immediate next – Indonesia, which stands at a growth rate of 31 per cent and scores 3921 million ad impressions (Source: BuzzCity Report 2011).

Therefore, in today’s scenario, it seems almost inevitable to ignore such a big and growing medium. The shift from TV to computer and from computer to mobile is happening and brands are getting into the bandwagon as early as possible. It will be interesting to see how brands leverage the industry and explore the opportunities. Unlike emails, which reach customers through internet media, mobile ads are considered more reachable and accessible to customers because of the portable feature of mobile phones. Also, SMS ads offer end-to-end brand promotion solutions immediately and effectively. The upsurge of pocket internet is yet another driver of mobile advertising.

The boom in apps or application economy sets the stage for driving next level of growth for mobile advertising in India. Close to 8-12 new apps are downloaded by users every month, which in itself is a proof of the growing application market on mobile. They are pegged to bring that ‘infotainment’ feature for a consumer and an opportunity for the marketers to find relevant and contextual connect.

Another avenue on mobile devices that has opened up in the recent past is the Location-Based Services (LBS) augmented by the higher availability of GPS-enabled phones. Some time back, a report by Gartner predicted that advertising-based or ‘free’ LBS will be a huge hit because of its limiting costs factor. Therefore, the total spends in the LBS market in India is expected to rise to $78.2 million by 2013. This will throw open a completely new dimension to connecting with consumers beyond brand communication opportunity. Relevant deals and offers can now be pushed to customers based on their location and unique offer codes will aid better customer profiling and measuring the efficacy of such programmes.

The explosion of video consumption on mobile phones is another phenomenon that has led to consumer interactivity and engagement. With the growth of smartphones and tablets, some of the video sites have witnessed significant growth in real-time traffic now coming from mobile devices. Today YouTube almost streams more than four billion online videos every day out of India and mobile forms an integral part of it. In fact, industry watchers whisper that it may replace TV network also with apps being downloaded by the viewers to watch their favorite programmes on the television channels. Today, number of hours of viewership of some of the popular music television channels on YouTube is more than linear feed on television. While we watched the London Olympics live on television through several hours of daily programming, many opted to get their dose of the sporting action online through YouTube, Dailymotion and other related websites through mobile devices.

YouTube is also being viewed as a marketing tool by advertisers and marketers across categories. Advertising on YouTube is measurable and sharply targeted. Video ads on YouTube have become extremely popular with users and brands.

There is not even an ounce of doubt that mobiles devices will dominate the future of internet and data services in coming times. With 60 million unique mobile internet users in India and with quarter-on-quarter growth of close to 20 per cent in 2011, it is imperative for brands to start opening their purse strings towards high impact mobile advertising campaigns.

The author is Senior Vice President and Head – Domestic Business, Hungama Mobile


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