IAMAI conference: Mobile is the seventh mass medium

By Khushboo Tanna , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | January 19, 2009
The session aimed to promote mobile phones as a serious platform for advertising campaigns

The & #BANNER1 & # Mobile Ad Conference, which was organised by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), was held at the ITC Grand Central, Mumbai, on January 16.

The last session was a panel discussion involving strategies to maximise advertising revenue through innovative advertising that would engage consumers. The panellists were executives from the telecom industry: Zubin Dubash, general manager, value added services, Tata Teleservices; SS Sirohi, deputy director general, BSNL; Sunzay Passari, vice-president, value added services and devices, BPL Mobile; and Srinivas Gopal, general manager, marketing, value added services, Idea Cellular. The session was moderated by Suman Srivastava, chief executive officer, Euro RSCG.

Srivastava began the session by talking about the privacy issues faced by consumers. According to him, consumers were ready to trade their privacy for something worthwhile. Going by that logic, for instance, if an advertiser was bombarding consumers with mobile ads, an added incentive with the ad, such as free talk time, would help.

Gopal then made a presentation on driving value through customer engagement, in which he highlighted a case study they had done for magazines.

The Indian magazine industry is estimated to be worth US$3.2 billion. English magazines constitute only 21 per cent of this industry. The challenges this industry faced was how to increase the penetration of magazines and reader interactivity.

That's how Idea Cellular created Idea Mobile Magazine, a mobile website where readers could read the stories and articles available in various English magazines, post their comments and feedback and also forward the articles to friends. This was done to increase interactivity for a zero interactivity medium such as print.

Dubash made a quick comment on the various advertising opportunities available on different mobile platforms. For instance, a brand can advertise on a value added service (VAS) such as music downloads. A banner will be placed at the end of each SMS, which the consumer can click to perform a host of functions, such as download wallpapers, engage in online polls or fill out a form to get more information about the brand.

Passari said that mobile is the seventh mass media. He feels that operators need to focus on increasing the GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) consumer database. Only then can one talk about using innovative mobile advertising for a brand. He ended his session by saying that the consumer will be owned by the operator which delivers the most value for money to the consumer.

Sirohi, the next speaker, spoke about the immediacy offered by the mobile medium. He also said that traditional ads have to be adapted to fit the medium.

Srivastava had some questions about the role of VAS and the strategy used to promote it. Dubash replied that the basic role of VAS was to increase revenue by using innovative advertising.

The session ended on the consensus that the mobile medium is still nascent; it will grow as the operators understand what customers want.