‘Last year, 70% of all internet visits were on mobile, and this number continues to grow’

Ritu Mehrotra, Regional Manager – South Asia, Booking.com delivered a special address on 'Unlocking your App Marketing Automation - Driving Mobile App Promotion in a COVID-19,' at e4m’s Screenage 2021

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Oct 25, 2021 3:27 PM
Ritu Mehrotra

At e4m’s Screenage 2021, Ritu Mehrotra, Regional Manager – South Asia, Booking.com delivered a special address on the topic - “Unlocking your App Marketing Automation - Driving Mobile App Promotion in a COVID-19”.

Commencing the session, Mehrotra introduced the South Asian market and highlighted how the region is growing. She shared, “Out of 7.7 billion people in the world, over 60% of them actually live in South Asia, which is by the way also the fastest growing in the world. The interesting thing is that India, a part of it, is also one of the fastest growing economies. Also, it's an extremely diverse nation, there are 23 languages, 415 dialects, 19,500 mother tongues and over a million dishes in the country. And when people say that they have one India strategy to acquire users at scale, to build demand or have a product market fit, it actually confuses me a lot. However, there's one thing in common: we all love our beloved phones. Last year, 70% of all internet visits were on mobile, and this number continues to grow. And why is this growing? Large and growing middle class, skipping desktop and moving straight to mobile. Mind you, this is the nation where a lot of people actually have never experienced a desktop or a laptop. This is the generation that moves straight to their mobile phones. So in a lot of ways, this is their first camera, first TV, first music store, and most importantly, this is how they connect with the world.

She further explained how mobile phones have changed user behaviour completely while pointing that average time spent on social media is over five and a half years a day. “Every day 80 billion messages are shared on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and all other social media combined. Post COVID, the digital transformation went on a turbo state, because it was not just the want, it also became the need of the hour. Therefore, the need got even more pronounced. The average time spent on social media is over five and a half hours today, and mobile has changed user behavior completely. People do not want to wait for answers, they do not want to stand in queues. People are expecting instant gratification.”

Talking about Booking.com’s business and growth, she shared, “Same day reservations have gone up dramatically in the last couple of years for Booking.com. So it brings us to three things - One is that hand mobile as a platform is gaining so much traction. Number two is messenger or messages, is the way to communicate. And third thing is that artificial intelligence or machine learning will personalize the content that we're sharing on the platform.”

Citing an example of a Chinese messaging app, WeChat, Mehrotra explained how China is ahead of other countries in the world. “Let's turn to what happened in China. Let's look at this messaging platform - WeChat, which very quickly morphed into a super app. And this is empowering people to live their lives on the phone only. Every day, 1000s of customers are interacting with millions of businesses, and even government services, so if you want to apply for a permit, get a visa, everything is done through this channel. So, if anything, China is predictive of what's going to happen to the rest of the world and why I'm saying this is because they embark on the mobile revolution much faster than any other country in the world, including some of the Western countries like Europe or North America. So as a business, it's important for us to understand - Are we mobile ready? Are we innovating fast enough? Are there businesses ready to target these mobile users? Are we communicating with the users on the medium that they're most comfortable in?”

Elaborating on contextual and personalised messaging & content helping in increasing sales and traction, she shared, “Another key trend that we see also is that we spend five and a half hours on our phone today. But how are we going online? Google isn't the entry point anymore. You're going through feeds, which are highly personalized, contextual and keep bringing us back. And just to make matters worse, none of these search engines will be the entry points and just to let you know, If I look at the last year sales for Alibaba, which is one of the largest retail chains in China, 60% of the sales came from contextualized content. 

So data shows that before we go to bed every night, on an average people spend 15 minutes, checking their feeds and social media. If anyone told you a few years back that you will be spending five hours on a six inch screen you would laugh. But this goes on to show that if there’s something easy, useful, frictionless, it can change user behavior in no time. We spend hours on this without actually searching anything. So when you're looking at your feeds on Facebook or other content, you are not searching anything. Basically what happens is whatever notifications come in because they're highly contextualized, you keep browsing more and more.”

Explaining how Booking.com has acquired more users in the last two years to become the most downloaded app, she said, “At Booking.com, two years back, we started to spend a lot of time and invested a lot of energy and resources into the growth of our app. We made big gains in booking and user engagement both on iOS and Android. And I want to dig into our growth trends to show you how this momentum is opening up new partner opportunities and user growth. So from a high-level perspective or investment and future of our app follows, it's a two-pronged strategy, how do we drive more app installs and how does the app have more engagement? And in the last two years, we've been able to do both. So let's focus more on the user acquisition side first. Number one, app store optimization, I think that is one of the most important things in activating advertising campaigns and app stores around the web. So our app is increasingly reaching new customers, new users as we continue to add flights tours, and we are trying to do connected trips, because the more choices you give on the platform, the more users keep coming back. And we also launched another PR campaign that was all about downloading the app. 

And I want to say that in the last two years, the very focused efforts that we made, globally in Q2 this year, Booking.com was the number one downloaded app, according to a third-party research. And during the same quarter, we were one of the most downloaded apps in the US and our app downloads increased dramatically over the last couple of years, and we ensured that we create direct marketing. So apart from working on the conversion, funnel etc, we wanted to create content that brings low intent users to engage our entire funnel, and also our entire funnel is touched by machine learning. So this is how user acquisition is working for us.”

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