Tarana Khan

<FONT COLOR="#FF0033"><B>Digital: Quest for speed-dial in mobile advertising, Part Three</B></FONT>

In the concluding part of our three-part series on mobile advertising, we look at the advertising avenues in gaming and video

It’s clear that the mobile advertising space in India has potential for both text and data-based advertising in the form of SMS and WAP. However, the buck doesn’t stop there. Developers are already hard at work, creating the face of mobile advertising for tomorrow – much of which has already taken birth. Multimedia is where the future is. Mobile entertainment (in the form of Bollywood clips or games, for instance) is a big driver in this segment. Gaming and video are the mobile advertiser’s next stop.

Gaming: The mobile gaming industry, along with data services, is worth Rs 171 crore. However, it only contributes 7 per cent to value-added service (VAS) revenues. Mobile gaming adoption levels have not reached desired levels. As the volumes lie in other VAS products such as ringtones, gaming is still considered a marginal product. “In general, games are not a priority for carriers because they’re more of a hassle and generate less revenue than other entertainment on phones,” says Rajan Arya, DGM, client alliances and business development, Bugzy.

<FONT COLOR="#FF0033"><B>Digital: Quest for speed-dial in mobile advertising, Part Three</B></FONT>
Rajiv Hiranandani
That is about to change as gaming developers are attracting the attention of venture capitalists. In March 2007, Games2win, a mobile game developer, received $5 million in funding from Clearstone Venture Partners and the SVB Financial Group. Virgin Comics also has plans to launch mobile games in India. Mauj Telecom has tied up with Essar Telecom to provide Bluetooth-downloadable games at the latter’s retail outlets.

For advertisers, branded games are about the only option available now. But Mobile2win is working on a platform that will allow advertisers to place their brands within games. Expect lots of action in this space.

Video: It may seem like a distant dream to watch your favourite TV show on your mobile today, given the Indian market’s bandwidth issues. However, with a little help from advertisers, things should pick up in the mobile video segment. Currently, Reliance is the only telecom provider to have a ‘live’ mobile TV service. However, it has not started streaming video ads yet and consumers have to pay Rs 15 for every five minutes of viewing.

<FONT COLOR="#FF0033"><B>Digital: Quest for speed-dial in mobile advertising, Part Three</B></FONT>
Rajan Arya
Like with Internet television, pre-roll ads – which play while the content is buffering or downloading – could be a way out. Says Rajiv Hiranandani, co-founder and country head, Mobile2win, “Currently, whichever ads are shown on live mobile TV are there without any incremental costs (for the advertisers). Once it really kicks off in India, advertisers and agencies will see the value of the additional viewership from mobiles.” Among other ad platforms, the company is also developing a video ad format, where a 30-second ad rolls while content is downloading.

Being an interactive medium, mobile TV will let users pick and choose what they want to see at any place and time – making it easier for advertisers to place contextual, real-time ads. Says Ankur Bhatnagar, head of engineering at Cellnext, a VAS provider, “Consumers would like to have an interactive TV experience on their mobiles rather than ‘dumb’ TV.”

It may take some time for the complete realisation of mobile advertising. The need of the hour is creative outfits especially catering to the space and delivering made-for-mobile ad campaigns. Once advertisers see the exclusivity and personalisation of the mobile medium, they will not be deterred from taking it on. Operators, too, have to go with the flow and let allied service providers play their part in expanding the mobile industry laterally.

And then, finally, the industry will go into speed-dial mode!

(Here’s where you can read the first and second parts of the series)

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