"No, I don't want & #BANNER1 & # to hear about a home loan, a credit card or a prepaid scheme. Please don't call me again."
Sounds familiar? It's probably one of the few polite instances when customers haven't shouted expletives when disturbed by mobile marketing at inconvenient times.
At Verge, the OgilvyOne Digital Summit held in Mumbai recently, Navin Chopra, chief marketing officer, Hutchison Essar, admitted, "It is true that our call centres get flooded at times with customers ringing about services they don't need at those times of the day when they don't want to be disturbed. To solve this issue, we have started a 'Do Not Disturb' mechanism."
As per this mechanism, customers, who do not wish to be disturbed with any kind of information, can request their number to be taken off the calling list.
"And we honour the requests," Chopra said. But he pointed out that mobile marketing itself need not be written off; it just needs to be executed in a far more relevant and responsible way.
Adding to that, Upendra Namburi, product head and vice-president, non-branch delivery channels, ABN AMRO, commented on 'spam' in mobile marketing, saying, "One of the biggest questions hanging in the air is where does a marketer draw the line? Getting to understand how much is too much is where the challenge lies."
He also said that irrespective of the medium, the basic construct of customer communication doesn't change. In fact, he said, mobile marketing is not limited to voice calls only.
Raj Singh, executive director, ActiveMedia Technology, said in agreement, "It is important to reach people on mobile phones, but through means other than only voice calls or SMS marketing. The advertising message has to be embedded in such a manner that it is interesting rather than intrusive."
Neville Taraporewalla, director and country general manager, Yahoo! India, spoke from his own experience about how most marketers want access to customer databases and end up bombarding them with communication. "But we are very careful with databases and advise the same to our clients. If mobile marketing is not executed correctly, it leads to brand dissonance and makes the consumer feel that the brand is intrusive," he said.
Talking about the positives of mobile marketing, Taraporewalla recounted Yahoo! India's success story. Earlier, properties such as the messenger were available only through one medium, the Internet. But they were successfully brought onto the mobile phone, thus encouraging interactivity, and not intrusiveness.
Lloyd Mathias, director, marketing, Motorola India, was also positive about the growth in mobile marketing. He said that the sheer extent to which the mobile business is booming speaks volumes about the popularity of the medium.
He said, "As the mobile phone penetrates down the SEC ladder, people are not looking at it as simply a phone meant for talking. For instance, music downloads are becoming a huge business. So, what matters is how exciting one makes the interaction."
Chopra agreed, saying, "The mobile phone has become a camera, a radio and a PDA and this is only the tip of the iceberg. We're at the infancy stage right now. With various legislations, things should be better in a couple of years."
The talk was concluded with two examples of successful interactivity through the mobile phone.
Chopra of Hutchison Essar said that on the day of a cricket match, several subscribers send around 70-80 messages to get alerts on the score. "So, we decided that instead of sending them SMSs, which beep out loud, we will send them flashes on their screen from time to time, informing them of the latest situation on the field," he said.
Singh of ActiveMedia Technology concluded with the example of the success of 'Indian Idol', the popular show on Sony Entertainment Television, which invited viewer interaction through SMS votes. "This is how the marriage of two media can take place. This call to action is a big plus; it is the intrusive side we need to tackle," he said.
© 2006 agencyfaqs!