Points of View: How will 4G affect marketing communication in India?

By Aakriti Shrivastava , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | September 09, 2015
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In the wake of Airtel rolling out 4G services nationally, and other telecom players planning to follow suit, we explore how marketing communication may be affected by this development and how brands can leverage this new technology.

Mobile network providers promise lightning-fast data speed with 4G, in a nation where mobile seems to be turning into the primary device for internet access for most. Will this create a new channel for advertising or enhance the growing digital arm of the industry? Here's what experts say:

Hari Krishnan, managing director, ZenithOptimedia

Hari Krishnan

4G over 3G, if rolled out as planned, could transform marketers' approach to content strategy and media mix. At the very outset, 4G seemingly will let audiences achieve what 3G could not, but was expected to enable - uninterrupted viewing experience of videos on their smartphones. OLV (online video) ads were particularly challenged with network limitations, owing to disproportionately high load - completion rates suffered because people skipped ad viewing as videos buffered.

4G promises to better overall viewing experience, consequently improving the volume of video consumption in terms of total views and shares. This, in turn, will boost budgets towards OLV relative to TV, encouraging advertisers to divert more funds.

Secondly, the 'content snacking' behaviour of audiences could alter dramatically. Current data transfer speeds make people skim the surface of content and move on without exploring further links. 4G is likely to boost long-form content consumption by audiences, not just longer films, but written content as well. Owned media will gain more traction and hence demand greater attention from marketers. Audiences who currently terminate their digital journey at a single interaction on social platforms will be able to seamlessly transit to further destinations and brand sites, which will need to be updated and monitored with greater degree of detail.

Nimesh Shah, co-founder, Windchimes Communications

Nimesh Shah

4G will allow us to reach the audience in a more creative way and hardware is not going to be a roadblock anymore. Although the fundamentals of advertising remain the same, the liberty to use richer media has come.

Secondly, technology-based innovation, which has been a miss all these years because of low bandwidth, can be driven by 4G. Integration of online and offline ideas will lead to better use of technology to bring out brand experiences in the offline world, using the internet.

Brands may also rethink the way they spend on digital advertising. The money that was earlier spent on acquisition of Facebook fans will now go into creating good content; so, there will be a diversion of funds. The billing by digital agencies may also increase, considering the creation of high-end content like interactive videos and detailed apps.

Keshav Bansal, director, Intex Technologies

Keshav Bansal

The advent of 4G technology in the country marks a fundamental shift in the way data would be consumed by audiences. With data speeds no longer a barrier, marketing communication can look forward to more creative and engaging campaigns, for both online and mobile domains, which have become extremely significant in this digital age.

The app ecosystem, which is already bustling, will further gain traction with its growing sticky audience and attract attention of marketers. Catching the consumer's attention on his smartphone without intruding his personal space would be a key challenge.

Associations/partnerships/co-branding could rise to grab eye balls without being overwhelming. Exclusive app launch of products cannot be ruled out, as some of the apps are growing exponentially on the back of enhanced data speeds.

Marketers will be forced to plan traditional communication campaigns with social media/digital element upfront, rather than doing it as an afterthought, which happens in many cases today.

Rohit Raj, co-founder, The Glitch

Rohit Raj

3G brought alive the concept of videos to phones and helped spike video consumption. With 4G, we hope to see these videos take on an interactive edge, with aspects of live streaming and 360-degree videos taking shape. Apps like periscope already let users live stream their feeds and, with 4G, we see this picking up heavily. Also, the aspect of mobile gaming is set to see a definite rise with the connectivity 4G allows.

As a digital agency, it will allow us to use heavier content, be it websites, videos, banners or even images, which was not possible earlier. We can now explore interactive experiences and higher quality. It offers us a greater degree of creative freedom to do better things for clients now, the ones we weren't proposing earlier.

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