The trio of smartphones, mobile internet and apps is the way forward for mobile marketing

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | April 25, 2011
Panellists discussed increasing spends on mobile, apps, opt-in versus push messaging, and more at IAMAI's 7th Marketing Conclave held in Mumbai recently.

The IAMAI's 7th Marketing Conclave, presented by IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) and IBM, brought together experts from the domains of mobile, internet and marketing to discuss and deliberate the evolution of the strategies and the way forward.

A panel discussion on 'Mobile Marketing: Consumer Engagement' saw panellists discuss what the future holds for mobile marketing in India, the new rules of engagement with mobile consumers, mobile commerce, and more.

The session moderator was Milind Phatak, vice-president, Comviva. The other members on the panel were Giriraj Bagri, vice president -- marketing, Castrol India, Rameet Arora, senior director -- marketing, McDonald's India, K Ramakrishnan, president -- marketing, Café Coffee Day, Sanjay Diwan, vice-president -- marketing, IMI Mobile, Sumit Chowdhury, vice-president and partner, IBM Global Business Services, and Badri Sanjeevi, CEO, Mauj.

Phatak discussed how no single brand today is ignoring mobile as an advertising medium, and in fact, people are disproportionately spending on the medium.

Chowdhury pointed out that the rules of the internet are going to be applied to mobile as well. Giving the example of Google, Chowdhury said that the search machine tracks surfers and has a database for all these. Interestingly, they've been able to monetise this by sending ads to surfers as per their browsing preferences. While telecom companies are tracking consumer behaviour as well, they haven't been able to monetise this as yet, Chowdhury said. Going forward, it will be interesting to watch how this unfolds.

Discussing opt-in versus push, or one-way messaging, Arora opined that the harder brands will work towards more and better information and content generation, the more people will go for opt-in. Arora said that while last year, McDonald's spends on mobile was zero, this year, it has earmarked 10 per cent of its total marketing budget is, which is a big shift.

Ramakrishnan shared that while the company strongly believes in engaging consumers on digital and believes in co-creation, with close to half a million fans on Facebook, the fact is that brands should also be prepared for bad news spreading through social media and how to deal with it as people immediately tweet after a bad experience with a brand.

Taking the discussion forward, Phatak wanted to know if it was premature for mobile marketing to realise its full potential.

Ramakrishnan replied that all this stems from the availability of smartphones. Though only a fraction of such phones is currently in use, it may take off in maybe three years' time. It will help translate mind measure into behavioural measure, and the mobile medium is definitely going to help.

Arora added that mobile is about 'recency'. It gives one the ability to use in recent context, and is in fact, being used by international outlets of the brand to send out promos, discount coupons, and more.

Diwan, too, pointed out that while coupons might be given away free at a food outlet, yet if that outlet pushes m-coupons to consumers, it has been seen that this will yield a better response.

Chowdhury made a valid point, stating that marketing a product is one thing, but after marketing, one needs to close the sale. The mobile business allows this closure. "Being a platform of closure, the more we can close the business on mobile, the more growth mobile e-commerce will see," he said.

Discussing applications or 'Apps', Phatak quizzed the panellists on what they thought about apps and what's next in line for them.

Diwan said that once a person downloads an app, he/she interacts with it on the go, while travelling, or in between work. This makes the brand's relationship with the consumer much stronger and helps build the brand further with constant engagement.

Bagri (Castrol has launched cricket-related apps) feels that we are in the cusp of a change, where the trio of smartphones, mobile internet and apps make a very attractive offering. The cost of trial or experimentation of apps is very low.

Arora also echoed this and pointed out that apps, which are mainly of three kinds -- games/info, brand associations and transaction-based, will be the most profitable way of doing business, as from a customer point of view, it offers ease. For marketers, it is low in cost and can offer huge return on investment (RoI).

Phatak also asked the panellists what, in their opinion, would be the buzzwords for mobile marketing in 2012. The answer was: Apps, experimentation and the learning curve.

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