Marketing battleground shifting to a new frontier: Mobile

Source : Connect-World | View Original

Media mobile makes the world go round

by Anuj Khanna Sohum, Founder and Chairman, Affle Group

The arrival of rich media on smart mobile handsets is marked by advertising gravitating towards mobiles and the social networking space. The Asian messaging market is growing fast, and, with it, opportunities for mobile advertising. In a case study in India, advertisements were packaged with compelling youth content and launched ten days before the first TV broadcast. This attracted youth as the target market, and encouraged them to share the ad-content with friends, thus using the viral spread aspect of social networks.

Anuj Khanna Sohum, 33, is a serial entrepreneur. He founded Affle in 2006 with the bold ambition of becoming a global leader in the mobile media space. He started his first company at the age of 20 when he was in the undergraduate programme in computer engineering, on a Singapore Airlines scholarship, at the National University of Singapore. Anitus Technologies, Sohum’s first company, was acquired by the publicly listed Malaysian conglomerate MCSB and rechristened myMCSB. His second company, SecLore, which dealt with information security, was acquired by Herald Logic in 2007.

Mr Sohum has a keen interest in driving technological innovations. He enjoys the challenge of making sense out of emerging technologies and transforming those into businesses. At Affle, he also leads the product and business strategy for the company. He has in-depth understanding of the mobile media ecosystem and a passion for studying user interaction with mobile devices. Using his entrepreneurial acumen, he is able to leverage both technology and user insights with a view to building Affle into a scalable media business.

Mr Sohum is an evangelist in the realm of mobile technology. He actively participates in industry forums to further the cause of the mobile media industry and towards improving standards and practices. In 2009, he was elected Director for the Mobile Marketing Association APAC Region.

Mr Sohum is an alumnus of the National University of Singapore, Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.

When you analyse layers of consumer behaviour, or study the usage of mobile apps across ecosystems, it does not come as a big surprise that our fundamental need to be social drives the mobile world. People are using multitudes of apps but communications and messaging remain the mainstay of the mobile world.

Simple, Short Message Service (SMS) has assumed a much loftier role today and has evolved into Social Messaging Services. Simple messaging has transformed from just 160 black and white characters to rich multi- media messaging with colours and icons. Thus engaging, or rather engrossing, consumers with messaging is transforming mobile phones to devices of choice for consumption of entrainment, communications and content; in other words – consumption of powerful media, the mobile media. An influx of smartphones, feature phones behaving like smartphones, smarter networks 2.5G, third generation (3G), fourth generation (4G) and ambient wireless fidelty (WiFi) networks have slowly but steadily contributed to the transformation of mobile phones to media devices.

Asian giants

The developing world is experiencing mass penetration of Internet-enabled and Internet-connected mobile devices. Markets like Indonesia, China and India are experiencing a mobile evolution which is vastly different from the West. As per Google, India already has the second biggest mobile Internet user base in the world and ranks third in the world for the usage of social media, as reported by Socialbakers.

These three dominant Asian markets have general similarities in the way the mobile media markets have grown. Elaborating on consumer behaviour using India’s example, Indian consumers are now hooked on mobile Internet, with messaging and social media engagement being their primary preoccupation while on the move. This generates great opportunities for product brands to be marketed during conversations at any time and in any place. It is no surprise, therefore, that in the recent AdAsia 2011 event, which was held in India in November 2011, the focus was the immediate requirement to rewrite the rules for advertising to withstand the increasing impact of the new media trend and the mass adoption of the mobile social media.

Mobile as a media

Mobile media provides the power to the advertisers to engage with consumers on their favourite platform and use the advantages of locational marketing, with the possibility of an immediate result. Businesses are aware of this change and are proactively diverting greater marketing spends towards mobile. Typically it is the large brands who are leading the adoption of mobile marketing. Here is a case study where Affle and Coca-Cola partnered to clock a few ‘firsts’ in the Indian market.

Coke leads the way for others to follow

Affle and Coca-Cola launched a promotional campaign for a viral spread of a newly launched Coca-Cola commercial. India, with a large number of young mobile users accessing the Internet over mobile, formed the perfect market for the campaign.

Marketing objectives

Owing to a very competitive market, Coca-Cola in India invests heavily in advertising to gain a greater share of the consumer market. In order to make its new advertising campaign more compelling for its young, digitally savvy consumers, Coca-Cola launched for the first time a commercial featuring a popular Bollywood actor, which was previewed via digital social media platforms ten days before its release on television. The objective was to reach the maximum number of users in a minimum time frame and create a buzz around the new commercial before its television launch.

Strategy: mobile social networking for viral marketing

A deeper study of social media behaviour among young consumers suggested that they deeply desired to stand out amongst their peers in their group and wanted to be the first ones to do new things like catching a new movie, listening to the latest album or even watching the latest ad on TV. Sharing these ‘firsts’ socially was equally important to them. Catering to this primal instinct of the young gave the campaign strong viral and social ‘legs’.

The study also indicated that these target consumers were heavy users of mobile messaging and social networking, as well as gaming through their devices.

Combining these two insights, a campaign was launched across these touch points, to grab relevant ‘eyeballs’. Creative media elements were designed with interesting content that prompted users to view the ad and share it with their friends.

In addition to the TV screening of the commercial, engaging the digital platform provided a positioning opportunity to Coca- Cola. The use of this medium positioned them as a forward-looking brand with which the younger crowd is happy to be associated.

Execution – young consumers turned up in droves

Coca-Cola’s message communication was integrated across Affle’s popular messaging application to allow consumers to interact on rich media banner ads in different ways. Users could view the ad on their handset on a single click. Coca-Cola’s message was further integrated with the other content feeds in a non-intrusive manner.

Providing Coca-Cola’s communications exclusivity for a time period across the app, ensured that the brand could communicate exclusively with its Target Audience. To engage the audiences further and to promote viral spread, a social gaming element in the form of a Leaderboard was incorporated in the campaign. Users could earn points for interacting with the brand communication and compete with one another on the leaderboard for a chance to win ‘cool goodies’.

Mining the mobile internet: – Two key advertising destinations were identified to be targeted on Mobile Internet:

- Carrier portals: As a popular destination for mobile content download for young subscribers, the largest carrier portal in the country, with over eight million unique users, was chosen to integrate the Coke message.

- Social networking destinations: Interactive banners were also seamlessly integrated across popular youth-centric social networking destinations like MCampus (the largest campus-based SNS mobile portal in India), Frenzo (a leading SNS Portal) and Ebuddy (a leading chat aggregator).

Users clicking on these banners were re- directed to a central WAP destination where the ad was made available for download at a single click. Communication across media formats encouraged users to refer the advertisement to their friends to drive viral spread. Users just needed to enter the mobile number of the friend with whom they wanted to share the ad and a system- generated SMS was sent to the friend with a link to view the ad.

The communication also gave users an option of sharing the advertisement on their Facebook and Twitter pages to enhance the viral component of the campaign. In only ten days, the campaign registered twelve million impressions or twelve million people were exposed to the campaign. A high Click Through Rate (CTR) of over 3.5 per cent was achieved. Around 140,000 people viewed the commercial and referred it further to 112,000 friends.

Embracing mobile media

Mobile media is bound to become more significant to marketers. A number of factors will contribute to its growth. Handset ownership in Asia is well below the Western markets. With more young people acquiring mobiles, there is going to be an increase in messaging and social activity, leading to many more consumers joining the addressable market for brand targeting.

Availability of rich media will lead to brand marketing through in-app interactivity, leading to emergence of specialized creative agencies for mobile advertising. The ultimate salvo will be in ‘Location-based brand messaging’ where consumers will be reminded to buy a brand of shampoo a few meters away from the product display. If you have not started your digital/mobile journey it’s not too late. Starting sooner than later will however make a big difference.