Economic Times Mobile Marketing Summit 2008 was held yesterday at the ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton, Mumbai. The first session of the day was on Mobile Advertising: Setting the right standards. The session keynote was delivered by Patrick Prodi, chairperson, Mobile Entertainment Forum. The panel consisted of industry veterans such as Harit Nagpal, chief marketing officer, Vodafone Essar Ltd; Sanjay Purohit, executive director, marketing, Cadbury India; Sam Balsara, chairperson, Madison World; Anuj Khanna, chief executive officer, Affle; and Manu Kumar, chief operating officer, Maharashtra and Goa circle, Bharti Airtel.
The session opened with Prodi elaborating how the mobile marketing segment and its usage pattern has changed over the years. He claimed that the mobile has the potential to be an amalgamation of all media such as newspaper, television and others. He said that web giants such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are targeting it as the next major medium. Based on some research findings, he stated that the different sectors of mobile advertising are bound to see an upward curve.
Manu KumarHe presented the findings of a survey done in Western Europe which revealed that while many mobile users have been exposed to mobile advertising, barely 12 per cent of them trusted the ads. He said that operators can increase this figures by taking charge and being at the centre of the system.
Balsara took forward Prodi's line of thought and said that he was very hopeful of this medium but disappointed about the slow growth in the sector. He also said that the kingpins are the operators and everyone is just serving them. He also wanted to know how much support advertisers can expect from operators.
Purohit made a comment about mobile marketing and said that the number of mobile phones purchased in the country is increasing - which means that there is scope for this segment to expand and grow. He said the problem is that we take the mobile screen to be a TV or a computer screen. He added that for the time being, mobile advertising is a good option to improve branding but it is not counted as a source of revenue generator.
Prodi then turned to the operators and asked them to react to the comments made by the speakers. Nagpal, starting the discussion on a strong note, said that operators have maintained a decorum about allowing mobile advertisements. Otherwise, everybody's inbox would be full of spam messages. He also said that most marketers blindly send out bulk messages and are happy that they have reached out to 5 or 10 per cent of the consumers. They are not bothered about the other 90 per cent.
Kumar made a point when he said that ads in mobiles always come with a service such as news or astrology. Advertisement is always a bi-product and not a single product.
Balsara tried to prove his point by saying that he is used to advertising in other media, such as false cover for newspapers, so reading ads in mobiles is not going to be difficult either.
Khanna shared his viewpoint and said that as an entrepreneur, he is very hopeful about new ideas and so he is excited about this medium. He said that the first challenge is to make the consumers realise that a mobile phone can be used as a device which is always on the go, a device which is always switched on. The main challenge lies in promoting the mobile as a content based medium. He emphasised that the advertisers message should be passed on to the consumer without it being termed as an intrusion. He also said that what search is to the Internet, SMS is to mobile.
Nagpal said that this is one medium where the operator has mapped the consumer behaviour to the last detail. He added that the consumer should use content if he wants to and not because it is available for free.
Purohit said that even though a mobile is a piece of personal communication, no marketer will spend more than 5 per cent of the campaign budget on mobile advertising in the near future.
Khanna said that a lot of brands want to use mobile as a strategic medium. He gave an example of how a brand used the medium to take people's opinion about which actor should endorse it.
Kumar just made a small comment and said that mobile is going to be a major medium in the future.
The session ended with Balsara asking about the percentage of advertising revenue that will come from mobile advertising in the next five years. Nagpal said that the figure will be a very small number, maybe a low one-digit number.