Mobile Conversations 2008: Mobile marketing is about building communities

By Tarana Khan , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | September 22, 2008
The second session of Mobile Conversations 2008 focused on how the mobile platform fits into the marketing campaigns of brands

The & #BANNER1 & # Mobile Conversations seminar held in Mumbai on September 19 was all about understanding the mobile as a tool for marketing and advertising. The second panel discussion on 'Making the Mobile a Part of the Marketing Campaign' saw the participation of an interesting mix of people, representing ad agencies, media agencies, advertisers and operators.

Meera Sharath Chandra, president and national creative director of RMG Connect (a JWT agency), kicked off the discussion by saying, "Out of our advertising budget, we put 5 per cent in digital, out of which we give 0.05 per cent to mobile."

She went on to recommend how brand managers could use the mobile effectively in marketing campaigns, suggesting that the mobile be used to "create viral epicentres among specific groups". It's about talking to the right audience at the right time, said Chandra.

Chandra defined the basic thumb rules of the mobile for brand managers. She talked about creating an outstanding story that builds conversation with the brand, creating stickiness which has a viral power, saying only things that are relevant to the customer, making it portable enough to be passed on, sending the message at the right time, and creating a "seeding hook" that would get the customers interested.

Meera Sharath Chandra

Srinivas Gopal

Vinod Thadani

Paurush Sonkar

Shantanu SirohiThe key for advertisers, said Chandra, is to target the youth, teens and tweens, as once this group has been targeted, everybody can be targeted. She reiterated the importance of creating a "cool bonding" with the youth and starting off conversations, and even controversies, with them.

Chandra summed up with three simple mobile metrics: seeding conversations, spreading awareness and tracking affinity. She ended by asking marketers to "put your money where your mouth is!"

Next on the panel, Srinivas Gopal, general manager, value added services, at Idea Cellular Ltd, said that the mobile screen is the biggest, with four billion mobiles expected by 2009.

Gopal said that the mobile has the ability to deliver great return on investment (ROI) as an advertising medium. He also said it was time to give more value for content to customers.

He gave the example of Akbar Birbal Remixed, 90 mobisodes that were created by Rajshri Media and made available on Idea phones. "Everybody is taking a movie and making ringtones out of it. Rajshri Media created this exclusively for the mobile," said Gopal. He explained that Akbar Birbal Remixed was used in the form of SMS, MMS, ringtones, videos and voice, and a community was created around it.

He talked about how there would soon be a "prime time" for the mobile, where new mobisodes would be released every Friday.

Gopal also talked about the opportunity in using regional languages in WAP and voice, because the growth would not come from urban areas.

Vinod Thadani, regional mobile director, Group M Interactions, India and South Asia, said that targeted advertising was now possible with all the large operators in India.

Thadani went on to break some myths about mobile advertising in India. He said that mobile advertising was not about spamming customers, but had a lot to offer through SMS, voice and WAP. He also said that customers were well aware of mobile advertising and responded to it, with 35-40 million mobile data users in the country.

He said that mobile advertising was enticing, compared to traditional media and the Internet, because it was highly interactive and viral and allowed location based and highly targeted advertising.

Thadani gave some great examples of mobile campaigns in India executed by Group M. One of these was a campaign for a diabetes drive by ICICI Prudential, where people could send a message to a short code and win a free diabetes test. About 3,660 people responded in three days and 2,250 m-coupons were given.

Similarly, a campaign for Pirates of the Caribbean on STAR Movies offered an application that reminded people of the airing of the movie. This application got 1,10,000 lakh downloads in seven days. Thadani also elaborated on the mobile campaigns done for HSBC through Bluetooth, a WAP site for Pepsi's Youngistaan and an IPL community.

The next speaker, Paurush Sonkar, brand manager of digital initiatives at ICICI Prudential, said that the mobile was the only medium that was available with a customer 24x7.

Sonkar talked about how mobile integrated with other media, such as short codes in press, TV and OOH ads. Giving an international example, Sonkar explained how in a Dove billboard, people could send an SMS to vote for one of the three women displayed, and the results were shown live on the billboard itself. He also talked about Bluetooth and location based ads in malls and food outlets.

Sonkar said that the three main challenges in mobile marketing were attracting customers, the small size of the screen and the complicated process involved.

During the Q&A session, moderator Shantanu Sirohi, vice-president, strategy and planning, Interactive Avenues, asked Gopal whether the operator was actually interested in the marketing dollar. Gopal replied that valued added services contributed 10 per cent to telecom companies' revenue and that bulk SMSes sent by marketers were about Rs 100 crore in itself.

Thadani commented, "As ARPU (average revenue per user) is going down, advertising is the only way for operators to make more money."

Both Gopal and Thadani optimistically predicted that digital media would comprise 85 per cent of the advertising pie in the next three to five years. Chandra stuck to a conservative 15 per cent. Sonkar said that marketers may be expected to increase their mobile advertising spends by up to 25 per cent next year.

Mobile Conversations was presented by afaqs! in association with MyToday. mKhoj was an associate sponsor.

The Bengaluru session of Mobile Conversations 2008 will take place on Friday, September 26.