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IAMAI Marketing Conclave: Brands yet to recognise true potential of mobile advertising

At IAMAI's 8th Marketing Conclave, a panel discussion on mobile advertising saw industry experts deliberate on the reasons for sluggish growth of mobile advertising, despite a huge mobile user base.

Raj Singh
Ajay Kakar
Mahesh Narayanan
Paul Griswold
Srinivas Mothey

The 8th Marketing Conclave was organised by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) in Mumbai. A session on mobile advertising had the panellists discuss the reasons for mobile advertising not picking up the way it was anticipated, despite a huge user base.

The discussion was moderated by Raj Singh, managing director, 2ergo. The panellists included Paul Griswold, director, product management, mobile marketing, Velti; Ajay Kakar, CMO, financial services, Aditya Birla Group; Srinivas Mothey, head, marketing and advertising, One97; and Mahesh Narayanan, country head, mobile, Google India.

Kicking off the discussion, Singh said that the mobile user base of over 600 million presents the marketers an excellent opportunity. He said, "The mobile user base in India is huge and this medium has the potential to become the biggest way to reach the masses. But, the marketing spends on mobiles are miniscule and show disconnect."

Mobile marketing in India is still very nascent. The marketing fraternity is yet to be convinced about the return on investments offered by this medium. Though it has been touted as a medium that offers direct, personal and one-to-one contact, there have been few takers of it from the marketing world.

Commenting about this lack of trust in mobile as a medium of choice for marketing, Kakar said, "We keep hearing about the potential of the medium but a major chunk of marketers are not convinced. And that's the reason for it being allotted very low spends. What we need is that the mobile industry should stand up together and show marketers the opportunity for brands."

Narayanan was of the view that though mobile web usage in India is rising at an explosive rate, the industry has a lot of catching up to do. He said, "Mobile surfing has grown significantly and consumer behaviour is evolving. But, the marketing fraternity is yet to evolve and embrace the medium."

Griswold said that one of the major challenges for mobile advertising is that it is yet to be treated as an integral part of the overall marketing strategy. He said, "Acceptance of the medium by the marketers is a big challenge that must be addressed immediately to ensure that the medium is adopted."

Highlighting the need for a system to measure the success and effectiveness of mobile as an advertising medium, Mothey said, "We have failed to come up with a unified system that measures mobile advertising. And, we must understand that to make this medium acceptable, marketers will have to take a few risks. We also need to educate advertising agencies about the opportunities it presents for sustainable growth."

For long, the talk of lack of proper content on the mobile medium has been doing the rounds. The panel highlighted this problem and concurred that a brand must realise that mobile is a complex medium and is totally independent of other traditional media.

Kakar said, "Content is critical for any medium to survive and flourish. And, for the mobile medium, we need content that is of relevance to the users. The mobile advertising industry should work towards answering the 'why me' question rather than saying 'try me'!"

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