The first session of Mobile Conversations -- a mobile marketing conference organised by afaqs!, held on Friday, June 24, at Lalit, New Delhi, revolved around the topic of whether marketers will evolve and leverage the new mobile ecosystem.
The session was moderated by digital consultant Subhomoy Sengupta. The panel included Delynn Ho, vice-president -- sales, BuzzCity, Vinod Thadani, regional mobile director -- South Asia, GroupM Interaction, Shubhodip Pal, country manager, Blyk India, and Mohit Gupta, chief marketing officer, MakeMyTrip.com.
Thadani, speaking from the Indian context stated that it is mostly to do with the content providers and the consumers who are buying the contents from the operators in the ecosystem. He mentioned, "It should be agencies like us who should come forward and initiate new things to help the whole process of brand building in the ecosystem."
Pal spoke more about how the media landscape has changed over the years, and how mobile has emerged to be a key medium, "We have opulence in the country and it is very important to identify the target audience."
According to Pal, the mobile was earlier considered to be a communication device, but lately, even though it is a bit ahead of its times, it still has a long way to go, as compared to other countries. He feels that the peer pressure from the brand managers from other countries is giving a push to the whole mobile ecosystem.
Gupta emphasised on the impertinent need to understand what a mobile ecosystem can provide one with. He explained, "We need to offer user interface and right-size the whole ecosystem." Gupta pointed out that though India has a large mobile base of 150 million, the country still has a long way to go in terms of a developed mobile ecosystem. Ninety per cent of the people use only the SMS system. One should look for inputs required for the general masses, rather than only look for well-developed applications.
Talking about how brands can be developed keeping Indian masses in mind, Thadani said, "Content cannot be a phenomenon, owners themselves have to work towards it. Indian consumers are spread across Tier-1, Tier-2, Tier-3 cities and beyond. Hence, as it is mix of both rural and urban population, one should develop something keeping all these in mind."
Agreeing with Thadani, Pal too stressed on the need to understand the rural-urban need. He remarked, "Half the stuff we develop doesn't reach the rural population. As the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is designed on the basis of vernacular languages, we should develop apps based on vernacular languages. We must remember that English is not the language the majority of the population speaks."
Gupta explained, "Language and context play a very important role in apps. I do not think there is any need to connect to 700 million mobile users at one go, one should start targeting a few and go beyond later."
Sengupta then asked the panel about how to get into the conversation area.
Ho is of the view that the brand should always be able to answer some of the key questions a user asks. It is then perhaps that it can be said that the particular brand is communicating, in the best possible way.
Thadnani pointed out that in the case of understanding the needs of the consumers, engagement brands should be able to understand the touchpoints.
Pal mentioned that the whole concept of engagement depends on the level and kind of engagement one is looking for. He elaborated, "We should work towards making interactions more interactive. Instead of one-way, it has to be two-way. And, I feel, the brand managers and agencies have to work collectively towards the development of quality data and use tools more effectively by identifying the pulse of the consumers."
Discussing the integration of various kinds of medium, keeping the mobile in the centre, Thadani said, "Out of the various technologies available today, the new concept of augmented reality might bridge the gap between all the available mediums. We need to design something between the traditional media and mobile phones, and the offline and the online medium."
The discussion concluded with the acceptance of the fact that India still had a long way to go as far as the whole mobile ecosystem was concerned.
Mobile Conversations 2011 was supported by Navteq Media Solutions, One97 Communications and Jivox India as associate sponsors, ValueFirst as the mobility partner, TNS Global as the knowledge partner and Business Wire India as the official news distribution partner. The telecom portal of afaqs! The Mobile Indian, was the online media partner for the conference.