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POV: Can the mobile web create a buzz in digital advertising?

By Kapil Ohri , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | March 01, 2011
Industry estimates put the number of mobile web users at 20 million in 2010 - up from just 8 million in the previous year. Will this rise affect digital advertising?

Mahesh Narayanan, country manager (BD), Google India

Who could have imagined buying a touch-screen smartphone at a sub-Rs 10,000-price point in India? Who could have imagined surfing the web on the go without paying through their nose? The proliferation of smartphones and availability of unlimited data plans at reasonable prices have made this a reality. Mobile is doing what the PC and broadband could never manage to do -- making internet access easy for the masses in every part of India.

There are two mass media vehicles available for marketers - television and mobile phones. While television is one-to-many, mobile is one-to-one-to many. As more users start using the mobile web, it will become an integral part of marketing activity. Users search for information online and marketers can target them using mobile search advertising. Users surf various mobile sites or applications, and marketers can create brand engagement using in-app mobile display advertising. Tablets and other next generation devices will soon blur the line between the web and the mobile web. Marketers will then simply create device-screen customised experiences.

Prasanth Mohanachandran, co-founder, AgencyDigi

First, the mobile advertising company AdMob came up with the startling revelation that India is next only to the US for mobile requests on their network. Then On Device Research came out with one more number to set things rolling - 59 per cent of Indian internet users never, or infrequently, use the desktop to surf. This provides for an exciting time for content owners and brands to interact with their customers.

But the story of the mobile web for advertising is still one of unfilled inventory. And, for that I believe ad agencies are to blame. Indian agencies have never understood the power of direct response. They also cannot think smaller screens or appreciate the power of the consumer to reject their ads.

So will this opportunity be passed over by Indian agencies? The chances are that it might, unless something dramatic happens. Like Apalya Technologies (which had the streaming rights for IPL last year) proved that IPL was no flash in the pan, Blyk proved that the youth market is a strong consumer market, Micromax proved that it doesn't cost the moon for phones to be smart, and Google proved that click-to-call is here to stay.

Suresh Narasimha, CEO and founder, TeliBrahma

Mobile internet, when integrated with the unique capabilities of the mobile phone can change advertising for the better. The rise of the mobile web will enable seamless integration of traditional media and point of sale with mobile, which would create a new opportunity for advertisers.

Technologies like Augmented Reality, location-based communication delivery and rich media engagements can effectively leverage mobile internet to make mobile the heart of advertising strategies.

Loyalty management programmes, contextual coupons, and in-store engagements optimise ad spend and enable more powerful brand connect with consumers. With 3G enabling higher mobile internet speeds, relevant information delivered as rich video can change how consumers connect with the brand.

However, to change the dynamics of advertising, one needs to look beyond mobile content, lead generation and downloads. Location, context and deeper connect with the consumer can help deliver brand engagement beyond response generation.

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