Mobile Conversations 2008: Mobile marketing is more than bulk SMSes

By Kapil Ohri , afaqs!, Bengaluru | In Digital | September 29, 2008
There is a need to educate advertisers and media planners or buyers that mobile advertising is more than just SMS marketing

The & #BANNER1 & # first session of Mobile Conversations 2008, a conference organised by afaqs! in Bengaluru on Friday, focused on the possibilities in mobile marketing - how SMS, voice and mobile Internet can be used innovatively by advertisers and the possibilities they offer for a marketing campaign.

The session moderator, Abhay Singhal, vice-president, sales and marketing, mKhoj, a mobile ad network, started the session by talking about how advertising could be carried out on mobile sites.

Singhal talked about the Reebok 'Your Move' campaign, in which interactive banner ads were served on various mobile sites. Whenever a user clicked on the banner, he was directed to a microsite developed by mKhoj. The campaign was aimed at creating buzz, engaging consumers with the brand and increasing footfalls in retail outlets.

He said, "Around 40 million targeted impressions of Reebok ads were served over six weeks and 4,50,000 users from all over India visited the microsite and engaged with the Reebok brand."

Narasimha Suresh

Debraj Tripathy

Debasis Chatterji

Abhay Singhal
Narasimha Suresh, chief executive officer, TeliBrahma Convergent Communications, told the audience of how Bluetooth technology can be used for mobile advertising. He said advertisers can use Bluetooth marketing at the point of sale and in areas such as shopping malls to inform consumers about discount offers in the nearby shops; this would lead to impulse purchases. The technology can also be used to push rich media content such as wallpapers and ringtones.

Suresh pointed out that the problem with mobile advertising was that no one wanted to receive ads on their mobiles. He said that to solve this, the advertiser should understand what is important to consumers, make its campaign more exciting and try to solve consumer needs.

Debraj Tripathy, head, mobile marketing, OnMobile, talked of the opportunity ad ringback tones (AdRBTs) present to advertisers. He said ads delivered to callers who dial an AdRBT subscriber are based on intelligent profiling of the caller. The USP of AdRBTs is that they can be served in various languages and offered even to illiterate people, he said. So, advertisers can use voice advertising or AdRBTs to target consumers in rural areas.

The mobile has evolved as a mass medium, said Debasis Chatterji, director, operations, NetXcell, a mobile value added services company. He said the mobile is not competition for other media such as print, TV, radio and the Internet; in fact it supplements the other media. He went on to discuss the advantages of mobile advertising.

After the speakers presented their opinions on the possibilities in mobile marketing, the session was opened to questions from the audience.

The mobile has the capability of a mass medium, said Singhal, and it can be used to deliver relevant advertising messages to targeted audiences. "We have seen companies offering mobile coupons or discount offers through mobile ads, but do we need to provide some sort of gratification for our potential consumers to start accepting mobile advertising? Do we see this gratification trend continuing as we move forward?" he asked.

Suresh replied that mobile advertising depends on two factors: what brands want to achieve through the campaign and what the consumers of the brand want to achieve. Based on this, an advertiser decides whether he wants to use mobile advertising to make any offer or create engagement with the brand. For instance, a brand like Toyota wants to increase test drives and push footfalls to its retail outlet. But a brand like Coca-Cola will use mobile advertising to boost engagement with its consumers. Mobile coupons and discount offers are a huge success because they create engagement and consumers like such activities.

A member of the audience asked the panellists, "There is so much SMS advertising in the market that the consumer has stopped taking SMS ads seriously. How do we bring seriousness to mobile advertising?"

Singhal replied that there is life beyond bulk SMS marketing: "We have to educate advertisers and media planners or buyers that mobile advertising is more than SMS marketing."

Another audience member asked, "If I don't opt for bulk SMS advertising, but choose any other targeted mobile advertising format, I will still be competing with the SMS marketing happening all around. What do I do in this situation?"

Suresh replied, saying that if a bank sends out an SMS to sell a personal loan, it should not expect a single SMS to generate it a lead. It should devise a complete strategy on what will excite the consumer and compel him to come to it to learn more about the loan facility.

Tripathy ended by saying that if an advertiser delivers an SMS with a proper context, he will get a good response from the consumer.

Mobile Conversations 2008 in Bengaluru was presented by afaqs! and MyToday in association with mKhoj.