Mobile Conversations 2010: Creative possibilities of mobile media

By Sumantha Rathore , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | May 31, 2010
The session was about the advertising opportunities that mobile phones have to offer

The last session of the day, titled 'Creative possibilities of Mobile Media', had Rajesh Aggarwal, president, Dentsu, India; Tomu Jacob, head operations, Asia Pacific, Navteq Media Solutions; Debadutta Upadhyaya, vice-president, India, Vdopia; and Sankalp Mehrotra, director, business development, Affle as panellists. The session was moderated by Lloyd Mathias, chief marketing officer, Tata Teleservices.

Mathias started the session by asking Jacob to share his views on the advertising opportunities on mobile as a medium. Jacob said that location based advertising is what everyone is talking about. Two billion people in Asia take their mobile devices with them wherever they go. As far as devices are concerned, on an average, more than 1.2 million Nokia phones are sold every day."

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Talking about maps, "an important" aspect of location based advertising, he said that Navteq maps are viewed by more than100 million users every day. What makes location based advertising important is the fact that 94 per cent of the retail sales are still done through physical stores. Also, more than half the world's US$458 billion spent on advertising is on local advertising.

Explaining how location based advertising works, Jacob cited an example of a coffee shop locater with map and calling option. "That's where the user interaction starts. Once the user becomes interactive with the application, we can open up a lot of opportunities."

Today, with the number of applications being used which have location enabled advertising, the opportunities for brands to interact with the consumers has increased. "Brands have started to adopt mobile. There are applications, SMSes, in-game advertising and bookmarks available to the advertisers. Location based advertising will enable us to engage with the consumers in a better manner. It just has to be relevant and fit into the routine of the consumer seamlessly," said Jacob.

Citing the case study of McDonald 's done to promote the 1 cheeseburger and drive traffic to the nearest store, Jacob said that Click-to-Map functionality was used the most.

He said that at least 50 per cent of respondents exposed to a brand recalled seeing that brand (aided and unaided); 19 per cent liked the interactivity; and 73 per cent said that ads were acceptable on their navigation devices.

Up to 6 per cent of navigation device users visit a business location after seeing a advertisement on their navigation device. Across Asia, GPS ranks as either the first or the second most desired handset function (the other is mobile email).

To understand the take of the panellists on location based advertising, Mathias asked Aggarwal about how ready Indian advertisers are for location based advertising (LBA) and does it sound interesting? "It is for the very mobile savvy audience. For an advertiser, mobile is at times equal to bulk SMS advertising. It is a far fetched thought. People are talking about it but they don't understand what it means completely. '

Upadhyaya spoke about the possibilities that could emerge with the launch of 3G. She said that in terms of evolution process, mobile advertising has moved from WAP banners to pre and in-applications placements. "These are the things that are very much in vogue in other parts of the globe. They are going to drive media mix spends in the near future in our country as well."

Moving on to Mehrotra, Mathias asked him about the advertising application used by Affle. "The reality is that most advertisers who are on mobile media today are in some way aiming to replicate what they learnt from other media -- like replicating a print ad on mobile. That limits the creativity of the platform because the mobile specific ideas are not being thought of."

However, there are brands that are using this media creatively. Taking the example of Maruti A-Star campaign, he said that the car brand wanted to gauge which celebrity should be signed on for the upcoming brand, used this medium. "If we were to take this to the other media formats, the cost would have been enormous. Mobile brings in capability that ensures immediate responses from the consumers."

Citing a recent example of a Pepsi campaign, he said that Affle had to create as many engaging applications as possible. "Though it was present everywhere, it was a component on mobile that, in a period of 20 days, was able to get 1 million engagement for the brand." There is just the need to identify the right places to be present in and mobile will definitely work.

Mathias added that brand owners need to realise the power of this medium. In terms of sheer power, mobile has a tremendous potential. He asked Aggarwal why mainline advertising agencies haven't exploited this medium. "It's not that they don't want to but they don't have the understanding of the technology. They are barely coming to terms with the digital medium. Those who understand it well are not in the creative field," said Aggarwal.

He said that there is a need to demystify the medium. There is a need to have mobile creative agencies that draw different resources all together. All this requires a huge mindset change. Citing a Chinese proverb, Aggarwal said, "If you tell something -- I might forget; if you show me something -- I might remember; and if you involve me -- I'll surely remember it."

According to Mehrotra, the reason that is hindering the growth of creativity on this medium is the fact that agencies are comfortable doing what they have been doing for so long. "At one level, you require agencies to step up their creativity in mobile advertising. Also, brands are not even asking their agencies to look at newer forms on this medium. The brands are not challenging their agencies enough to even start thinking on this medium."

He concluded that an agency will never step forward and increase the creativity on mobile, unless there is an active need to do so.

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