2014 is truly 'the year of the mobile phone'. Currently, there are 116 million smartphone users in India. Mobile devices have emerged to be one of the most potent and indispensable marketing mediums. However, the mobile business is yet to realise its full potential.
The proliferation of smartphones has influenced consumer behaviour and expectations, and brands are playing catch-up. Pick up a magazine or see display adverts, outdoor advertising or a TV commercial and they all use mobile as one of the calls to action - 'visit us in store, go to our website, call us or download our app.
Many brands that had hitherto solely relied on traditional mediums of marketing are now capitalising on mobile platforms smartly by delivering specific and more personalised and contextualised experiences for different audiences.
Companies are delving deep into mobile big data and are actively using analytics and insights in designing better mobile-targeted marketing campaigns that, in turn, enables higher customer retention as well as focused marketing decisions.
Furthermore, location data is projected to revolutionize the mobile advertising and marketing landscape. The ability to deliver real-time hyper-local, targeted advertising or tailored offers to consumers represents a potentially momentous evolution of the typical one-sided marketing thus far.
The volume of mobile advertising in India grew by a record 260 per cent since July last year and is expected to touch Rs 430 crore by next year, making India one of the world's fastest-growing smartphone markets. The ad traffic spike in India is on account of a shift in the marketplace as mobile users move from less-capable feature phones to advanced smartphones. Both social sites and apps lead the mix of media types in advertising in India. This is consistent with global trends. Apps pertaining to online transactions, gaming, education and music and other streaming media lead the trend.
It isn't just a trend driven by numbers. It is also a trend driven by the engagement opportunities it offers marketers, along with relevancy and efficiency. Geo-targeting or location-based advertising brings value to consumers by letting them find products and services in their location whenever they want, in real time. It is one of the holy grails of niche targeting for marketers because it makes your brand relevant to the consumer when it really matters. Hotels, stores and restaurants are aggressively capitalizing on location-based services.
Then there is narrowcasting, which refers to targeting a specific community of people from a particular group. For example, while reaching audiences on a social media platform like Facebook, one can narrow down the target audience based on their experience, demographic or location. Marketers can create a campaign for the people in that specific group and get the best out of it. Narrowcasting will be even more important in the months to come as content with context is gaining importance by the day.
And to round it up, the opportunity to personalise and customise is allowing brands to offer customers what they need, when they need. For example, if a consumer is looking for contracted labour, he/she will see mobile ads of companies providing the relevant service, but only those that are located in the vicinity, as opposed to services from across the city. Further, clicking on the ad will allow them to directly call the service, thus instantly connecting the consumer to the service provider, rather than looking up the phone number from a website or filling a staid lead capture form.
To sum up, the future is particularly bright for marketers who prefer to go the mobile way. However, it's easy to go overboard and marketers need to take care to ensure that they maintain a fine balance between being relevant and being intrusive.
(The author is EVP and Head, Digital Business, Multi Screen Media).