Mobile Conversations 2010: The three I's for mobile marketing in India

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | March 29, 2010
Goyal of Dentsu says that imagination, intelligence and investment are the keys for the success of mobile marketing in India

The Mobile Conversations 2010 event organised by afaqs! on Friday, March 26 kicked off with a keynote by Sandeep Goyal, chairman, Dentsu India. Goyal started off his discussion saying that people use mobiles to "use time, fill time and kill time".

& #BANNER1 & #He said that the first challenge for mobile marketing is that there is no real mobile content and advertising ecosystem in place in India. "Most monies come in from subscription revenues or downloaded content but there is no advertising revenue model as such. There are no advertising market makers or advertising market monetisers," he said.

Another challenge, he added, is that one cannot sell advertising on the mobile screen without an empirical measurement system and data that can be shared with all. A third challenge is that every new medium requires stimulation and amplification but bulk SMS has come to stand for mobile advertising.

Citing an example, Goyal said that about 10 years ago in Japan, a mobile content platform, called the 'i-mode' by NTT Docomo, came into existence. Dentsu formed a 59:41 joint venture with NTT Docomo and monetised this platform. It stimulated and orchestrated the creation of an entire advertising ecosystem. "Today, 17-18 per cent of all advertising in Japan is on mobile or mobile related," said Goyal.

He explained that the mobile ecosystem consists of the advertiser, the agency, the mobile ad network, the ad server and the content provider, besides the consumer. However, there are missing pieces in India - which are the mobile campaign creative. He said that agencies are not creating advertising for mobile as a medium, comparing this to TV some years ago.

Emphasising that while the opportunities for advertising on the two inch screen are limitless, he questioned whether it could really work? This, he said, requires imagination and intelligence.

He gave the example of an Austrian newspaper, Der Standard, which used the humble SMS for engagement with its medium on a single day. On the front page, it carried stories but left out pictures and asked readers to send in an SMS if they wished to see the pictures. "For something like this to work in India, the biggies like The Times of India and agencies have to work at it," said Goyal.

Another example was that of integrating SMS with the outdoor medium. BBC World, for a campaign in the US, invited passersby to send in SMSes and express their views on debatable subjects such as whether they thought the US army was an 'occupier' or 'liberator' and the numbers of people voting for each were displayed on a partially digitised hoarding.

A third example he provided was that of McDonald's in Japan. The brand wasn't doing well in the 90's and its revival took place in the last five years. This was because of multiple efforts, one being a mobile marketing initiative. McDonald's set up a technological device to enable people to download free m-coupons. To download coupons, people had to sign up and thus share some personal information.

The device recorded and stored all data about the people accessing the coupons. Subsequently, these people could go to the McDonald's counter and swipe their phones over the device, and the server would retrieve information about their favourite meals, past orders at McDonald's and other similar details.

The m-coupon is a powerful CRM programme for McDonalds, allowing it to target coupons and campaigns directly to the customers' mobile phones, according to their preferences and purchase histories. The m-coupon initiative now has a few million regular consumers.

Goyal also shared that McDonald's is now effectively using this database and selling it to other advertisers, who can target their specific audience with the knowledge of their preferences.

He further added that the heart of the matter is that in India, traditional agencies do not understand technology; while technology producers do not understand media or advertising. Also, digital agencies are too Internet-focused and the true mobile agency is yet to take shape in India.

"The way agencies have divisions for events and online - a separate division should be created for mobile as well." He revealed that Dentsu is developing a tool, the Mobile Advertising Measurement System (called MAD-M). Fieldwork for the same will be conducted over 10 days with 26,000 respondents across 30 towns. This tool, he shared, will go to market by mid-May.

Goyal concluded his keynote by saying that effective mobile advertising in India can be done and it will be done. What is needed is a combination of not just imagination and intelligence but also the right investments that will take the case of mobile marketing forward in India.

Mobile Conversations 2010 was organised by afaqs! in association with Affle and 160by2.