Screenage: We have moved from being mobile-first to mobile-only nation: Ashish Bhasin

Bhasin was speaking to Dr. Anurag Batra at a fireside chat at exchange4media's Screenage Mobile Marketing Conference held in Mumbai on Wednesday

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Nov 1, 2018 8:44 AM

“I don't think anybody has asked for a mobile-first plan yet, but I do believe we are not very far from it, probably 24 to 36 months away,” says Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia.

Bhasin said this during a fireside chat with Dr. Anurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media & BW, at Screenage Mobile Marketing Conference held in Mumbai on Wednesday. The two talked about the trends in mobile advertising and its growing scope in the marketing mix.


Shift towards mobile advertising

Speaking about the growing shift towards mobile advertising and whether clients were asking for a mobile-first strategy, Bhasin said, “I am hopeful that people will start asking for more digital-first and digital-only plans because in many ways digital and mobile is a very interlocked ecosystem and somewhere it reflects the maturity of the client and maturity of the brands.” 

“And once that starts happening, it will be a matter of time before mobile comes up in a big way because we have already moved from being a mobile-first nation to a mobile-only nation,” he added.


Audience convergence

When asked about the scope of mobile advertising over the next few years and the convergence of audiences towards mobile, Bhasin said, “At the moment, there are about 400 million+ people on internet and as per the Dentsu Aegis Network studies, this number is going to grow to 700 million+ by 2021. This means that 300 million more people will come to the internet in the next 2-3 years.  Almost 95 per cent of these people will come only from mobile.  In the last one year, of the number of people who have become internet users, 96 per cent are on mobile only.”

Responding to a question about making brands interested in mobile marketing, Bhasin said, “I believe that advertising follows eyeballs and once the eyeballs start going to some place and sticking there, advertising does follow. TV today reaches about 750 million people, digital reaches about 400 million+ people, so I think it is going to be 2021 when the reach of both will converge. Once that starts happening, mobile and digital etc will start getting relevant to FMCGs, because they want large numbers.”


Ad fraud and mobile marketing

Speaking about ad fraud in mobile marketing and ways to deal with it, Bhasin agreed that it was a big concern area for most clients. 

“It is not just ad fraud, but also the environment in which your ad is coming. This is one of the two things which will run to the detriment of digital and mobile as a medium because no client is going to put his money in an ad that is going to come on ISIS-sponsored websites or on content from a bot farm in Bangladesh. Big boys such as Google and Facebook should bring out technologies to weed out such issues because this is going to be the single biggest deterrent to the growth of the medium,” stated Bhasin 

“The other thing that we underestimate is measurability. I think mobile is the world's most measurable medium, but we don't have a single agreed currency which goes across. As the market gets more mature and as the size of the digital increases, the industry needs to come together and recognise this. If this measurement is corrected, it will give clients a lot more confidence in the medium,” Bhasin added.


Breaking the Google-Facebook duopoly

When asked about the Google-Facebook duopoly and how new players in digital could survive their onslaught, Bhasin said, “I don't think any client is looking at Google or Facebook or Star TV or Times of India or any particular medium. What they actually want is the most effective, cost-effective and impactful way to reach their target audience.  Any medium and any publisher that is able to do that stands a good chance. There is something that those big boys are doing right and which is getting them monthly users. If you are a new player, you need to concentrate on that, and once you get that, advertising will come.”

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