Advertisers prepare to go mobile to catch eyeballs

Source: Economic Times | View Print Article

DELHI, 07 July 2007: There are about 70-million cable & satellite homes, about 40-million Internet users in India

This is the length and breadth of mass media available to marketers in a country of over billion consumers. Wait a minute. There’s a bigger medium than television, print or Web-one which is seen every five minutes. It’s your mobile phone.

India has about 180 million mobile users at present which will cross 200 million (print media readership) by November 2007. And with this your mobile phone will become the biggest medium available to advertisers.

Still, ad spend on print media in India is about Rs7, 000 crore, TV (Rs6, 000 crore), Internet (Rs200 crore), outdoor (Rs700 crore) and mobile only Rs6-8 crore!

Wonder why the largest medium available for advertising gamers the smallest ad spend?

Intrusive behaviour of SMS ads is the biggest reason, crib ad agencies and mobile media developers. Says Anuj Kumar, South Asia ED of UK based Affle, a company which operates in mobile media innovation space: “Most users find mobile ads very intrusive. We are trying to change that,”

“Rather than push, mobile marketing should be more push focused,” says Leroy Alvares, country head of interactive ad agency Tribal DDB India. “The ecosystem does not exist and there is still not enough technology available to make it consumer friendly, “says a mobile phones maker. Be it as it may, everybody right from ad agencies, mobile operators, mobile value-added service (VAS) providers to marketers is waking up to the power of this 180-million consumer strong media.

“Mobile medium scores over internet, TV or print, “says Rajiv Hiranandani, CEO, Mobile2Win, a large VAS provider. A phone user checks the screen of his mobile phone every five minutes. And the medium with the ad message remains with the consumer 24 hours. “There’s no clutter of ads. It’s innovations and reaches consumers on the go. You can personalize the ads as well, “he says.

“Mobile marketing is a technology whose time has come. If consumers can be paid to listen at a frequency of their choice, they will surely opt for it. It’s going to be big in the coming years and it’s growing faster than Internet advertising, “adds Alvaras.

There are some who disagree. “It’s only a fancy, “says Sandeep Tiwari, LG India marketing head. “Out of a total ad budget of Rs100 crore, we spend only Rs50 lakh on the new media of mobile and internet. The basic problem is that telemarketers have made it into nuisance. It’s too early to plan for the medium. It’s a new born baby and creative agencies will have to evolve with it. But it’s indeed a medium of the future, “he adds.

“Give it five years, and mobiles will be among the top two ad mediums, “says Ramesh Krishnan, director content, Bharti Telesoft, a platform developer in VAS.

According to one study, advertising spend on mobiles globally, is expected to cross $11 billion by 2011. Mobile advertising is part of mobile marketing. The concept involves marketing products using mobile content as a medium. Thus, be it games, WAP sites, push SMS or wrap around download ads, the concept is catching on. Brands such as Aviva, Britannia, Goodyear, HPCL, ICIC, Makemytrip, Perfetti Van Melle are also looking in this space with Affle platform.

Many VAS companies pay users per ad view,, in offers discounts and coupons, pays on the chain of subscribers created, and mGinger pay per SMS ad they send. Chennai-based Air Voice plans to launch voice ads wherein the consumer may get 40% discount on a minute’s call charge or free air time for listening to each voice ad. Cellebrum uses a ‘Text tag’ approach, where an ad is appended to a personal text message.

“Globally it’s catching up fast, “says Lloyd Mathias, marketing head of Motorola.

“For instance, in Hong Kong anybody near a Pizza Hut outlet get an SMS offering a 20% discount. If the consumer replies ‘Yes’ a bar code is pushed via an SMS which he can exchange for a discount at the nearest outlet.”

Operators also gung ho on mobile marketing. For instance, CDMA-based big mobile operator Reliance Infocomm has tied up with Cadbury (for ex-amination results), Coke (for games), Suzuki and LML (for cricket). The company has also created specialized brand zones for Pepsi. Anyway, LML, Maruti, Suzuki and Hyundai. “Hundreds of millions of mobile ads are already being run. Click-through rates of about 8% are much higher than online, “says Mahesh Prasad, president, applications, solutions and content group, Reliance Communications.

Samsung uses the medium to market only its mobile phones not consumer durables. But there’s no marketer which is using the medium in a big way at least, not now. “Though people are talking of mobile as the fourth big screen but the fact is that the ecosystem still doesn’t exist. We have to have content and technological innovations to appeal to consumers, “says a leading mobile phone maker.

Slowly and steadily marketers are also waking up to the power of mobile marketing and resorting to brand placement inside mobile games, WAP Sites and mobile searches and emails. In India, mobile marketing is expected to gross Rs20 crore by April 2007. Globally, perceptions about mobile marketing are changing. Despite all the hype that fact is that marketing through mobile screen is tiny at present. But come 3G, and we are sure to see a boom in this space.

Source: Economic Times | View Print Article