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For most people, it’s the first thing you look at when you wake up and the last thing you check before you go to sleep. It’s your constant companion and guide. From news and social media, to paying bills and operating bank accounts, to ordering food and groceries, buying clothes and books, watching movies and shows on OTT platforms in the language of your choice and much more – everything can be done within minutes, sitting right where you are, with just a few taps on the mobile phone. And this is no longer restricted to just the urban populace living the ‘fast’ life in the metros.

“In India especially, we’ve leap-frogged beyond the traditional steps of computers to mobile, to mobile becoming our primary media start-point for the masses. The advantage is that mobile strategies allow for better targeting as well as deeper and more personal consumer experiences,” says Varun Duggirala, Content Chief, The Glitch. Today, audiences which could not be tapped earlier because of geographical, financial or technological constraints can be easily spoken to. Brands can now talk to customers straight through the mobile, be they in urban or rural India, and in their own language as localisation becomes a keyword here. Also, unlike TV or desktop, mobile screens provide less distraction as they limit the scope of visible content. Remarks Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, CEO & Co-Founder of digital agency Gozoop, “In Tier-II, Tier-III cities and beyond, the small screen is possibly the only screen people are exposed to. As a medium, mobile is interactive and offers scope to gather sophisticated data. We also have new users adopting the medium, which means there is room to grow. At the same time, with the mobile being an extremely personal medium, be it in a city or a village, brands need to provide more localised and regional content.” Besides, digital artworks and messaging can be instantly edited and modified as per a marketer’s requirements and the message’s performance. This freedom does not exist on traditional channels of communication such as Outdoor, where artworks cannot be A/B tested or changed multiple times when needed.

HIGHER SHAREABILITY OF CONTENT: The fact that a mobile phone has become an essential part of our lives and all of us have it handy at all times means that marketers can reach their TG at any time, anywhere instantly. Another big advantage of mobile as a marketing platform is shareability of content. Users invariably share good information and offers with their friends and family. Thus, the probability of a campaign going viral is high on mobile phones, believes Chandni Shah, Co-founder & COO, Social Kinnect, a digital marketing agency. “For instance, in case of BookMyShow, looking at the majority of business coming from the app, the company devised the most robust mobile marketing strategy to engage with users, using analytics and an engagement platform that could handle the growing scale of their marketing campaigns and yet provide a personalized experience on the app,” she elaborates.

Omkar Joshi, Business Head and Creative Director, Schbang Bengaluru, agrees. “The mobile channel gives a marketer the freedom to market to a consumer sitting thousands of kilometres away. This essentially makes their scope of scaling up considerably higher. Thus, a modern, young brand can create a much larger impact today using mobile marketing channels with a fraction of the media money required in traditional mediums,” he says, citing as examples beauty brand Nykaa, which was built only on the Digital platform with mobile as a key component, and Chinese smartphone brand OnePlus which used a mobile-only approach to enter India. This strategy also helped OnePlus control demand and supply, while ensuring that huge investments were not made.

MEASURABILITY, COSTEFFECTIVENESS, USE OF SMART TECHNOLOGY: “Mobile is the only channel where you can actually measure across the entire user journey, right from number of impressions to clicks to now downstream to the level of transactions and even store walk-ins. Thus, measurement, combined with the ability to specifically target consumers using analytics and AI, provides a big advantage to marketers in terms of mobile marketing,” states Vasuta Agarwal, VP & GM, India, InMobi. The mobile is an incredibly powerful device wrapped with sensors like compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, vibration, camera and microphone. By tapping into these, brands have the opportunity to turn boring click-through ads and sponsored content into delightful story-telling experiences. Brands can create two-way communication through mobile ads, changing user behaviour from passive consumption to active participation, infers Vishal Rupani, Co-founder & COO, mCanvas. “Brands in the FMCG space are now spending almost 30-40% of their media budget on mobile. Several FMCG brands like Unilever and PepsiCo are devoting as much as 80% towards digital spends. In the next few years, this could well become 70% or more. With AR, VR, and more, brand engagement via mobile has become very high. No other platform can offer you the kind of brand engagement that mobile can,” concurs Rohit Sharma, CEO & Founder, POKKT.
RELEVANCE TO THE TARGET AUDIENCE: Whether or not a mobile-only strategy for brand building will work depends on the consumer segment being targeted. For example, any company aiming to build brand equity among Tier I city urban millennials would find it very advantageous to focus all or most spends on mobile marketing and would, in all likelihood, derive excellent return on investment, as well as detailed consumer-response analytics. On the other hand, FMCG brands targeting Tier III towns or insurance companies targeting senior citizens for pension plans would still find conventional advertising media more useful, explains Vineet Bajpai, Founder & Chairman, Magnon\TBWA. Besides, as per Agarwal, especially in rural areas, TV still remains the medium of choice with a higher penetration.

MOBILE SPECIFIC CONTENT: One of the most important aspects of mobile marketing is building a site that’s optimized for mobile devices. It is imperative that marketers produce mobile-specific content, instead of using it as a platform to disseminate content that was originally produced for some other medium. Shrenik Gandhi, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, White Rivers Media, comments, “If you make a desktopfirst website which is adapted to mobile, it is a very wrong strategy. Every single communication, has to be mobile-optimised and only then will a mobile-only strategy work.” Adds Subrat Kar, Co-founder & CEO, Vidooly, “Mobile website optimization, mobile ad campaigns on social media platforms, mobile advertising using ad words, mobile apps, utilities, and extensions are key for any company as mobile accelerates time to purchase and can increase customer loyalty.”

LACK OF STANDARDIZATION: “Mobile devices are available in different shapes and sizes and hence the screen size always differs. Also, there are multiple operating systems and browsers that are used by different models of mobile phones. Hence, it is not possible to create one universal campaign for all kinds of devices. Besides, the screens of mobile phones are smaller and hence navigation might be difficult for users. There is a high possibility that an ad will go unnoticed or not acted upon if the users find it tedious to view the details and go through the information provided,” remarks Prasad Shejale, CoFounder and CEO, Logicserve Digital.

USER DATA PRIVACY: One of the biggest challenges faced by brands today is privacy. While brands need data to reach a specific TG, users believe that brands should indulge in any promotional activity only after getting their permission. “Apart from this, many raise an eyebrow when it comes to third party measurement. Tracking, too, isn’t a cakewalk when it comes to mobile, as it doesn’t allow cookie storage,” Bhargava says. Besides, consumers opting out from sharing useful information with marketers and ad-blocking are also challenges. “SMS is close to a nuisance now when marketing to people who have not opted in. It is important to have permission and context to reach people on mobile and other channels,” says Venugopal Ganganna, CEO, Langoor. Over a period of time, this may lead to users shunning the app or opting for a paid, ad-free experience. Comments Joshi, “Recent reports of fudged video view numbers by certain brands have posed a huge credibility question for other mobile channels’ metrics and a bad experience is more loudly voiced by a mobile customer today, which is not the case with traditional channels. This poses a new dilemma about the medium and has acted as a deterring factor for many big marketers to go this way with complete confidence.”

BRAND EXPANSION: If the product or service demands an extensive brand awareness campaign, then a mobile phone may not be the only medium for outreach and meeting the brand objective. “If a brand wants to target 300-400 million users, then just mobile marketing is a great medium for them. But as each of these brands and businesses evolve, their aspirations also grow. This is why most of the large brands do not rely on mobile marketing alone,” Agarwal points out. Sanjay Trehan, Digital & New Media Consultant explains, “We need to look at an ecosystem where brands think first of addressing the concerns of consumers by creating experiences across platforms. So, while mobile will play a critical role and perhaps even lead the revolution, the consumer is not thinking of a mobile-first world, but rather a converged world, where traditional mediums and digital play an equally important role.”

A recent study by Deloitte India predicts that mobile advertising spends would account for 15-20% of the overall media expenditure by 2020, pointing to the fact that brands are recognizing the reach and the wide consumer base that uses only mobile as a medium of purchase. “With smartphones becoming the most portable communication tool, it is not a distant reality that mobile advertisements would have a major stake in the advertisement pie. Gaining momentum on the back of growth in m-commerce, mobile advertising has firmly imprinted its space and is here to stay,” concludes Neha Warrier, VP, Sales, Mirriad India.

Having explored the varied advantages and opportunities, as well as the challenges and limitations of mobile marketing, we ask leading marketers to share their experiences of building a brand solely on the mobile platform

“If you look at different industries like e-commerce, communication or content, you would see adoption of high use mobile devices in India. For consumers in Tier II & Tier III cities, there is still a gap between consuming online content and actually making the last-mile purchase on mobile, because of lack of trust in mobile banking, as well as the touch and feel factor of seeing what you are buying. For Flipkart, we have all touchpoints available for consumers to shop. However, with the fast adoption of mobile usage in India, the prime traction is seen on app and m-site, but today it is important for any brand to be available at all touchpoints and not only on mobile, as user behaviour varies depending on where he is and what is the need.”


“Around 70% of our spends are on Digital, and about 80% of our digital spends are on mobile, given that a lot of our customers’ online activity is done via mobile. One of the things we do to connect better with the consumer is personalization. We were one of the first to do this in the BFSI space. On Facebook, we have the messenger bot for Facebook Messenger, through which one can do flight bookings, cab bookings and more. We also have the chat bot which handles over 60,000 queries a day and has a 70% success rate.”

Head- Digital Marketing & Web Analytics, HDFC Bank

“Today if you look at the numbers, almost 75%80% of banking industry spends are dedicated to mobile marketing. As per the new AdEx numbers, Digital is expected to cross Rs 18,000 crore by 2020; a good 70% of which will go to mobile marketing. Additionally, almost 60-70% of new Internet consumers use mobile as a medium of access. Thus, a marketer should not miss out on this opportunity, whether it means building a brand completely on a mobile or a split of desktop versus mobile, as mobile marketing is the future.”

Group EVP & Head, Digital Marketing, Yes Bank

“At Jabong, we always look at combining the power of relevant mediums to get maximum impact, instead of following a mediumwise approach. App and mobile marketing play a key role for us in acquiring new customers and engaging with the existing base to contribute towards overall growth. Hence, mobile marketing is an integral part of our overall marketing strategy.”

Head of Brand, Jabong

“For Kraft Heinz, mobile ad spends have gone up substantially in the past 12 months. We leverage the digital platform even in smaller markets and rural areas.”

Managing Director, South Asia, The Kraft Heinz Company

“Uber is a tech platform and mobile is front and centre of all pillars of experience including communication and engagement. In our effort to make Uber the default, go-to app we are committed to invest above and beyond traditional marketing to provide richer, integrated experiences. So whether our campaigns are anchored on certain occasions such as Father’s Day or have explored larger themes around inclusivity or women’s safety - they have always been deeply integrated into the (digital) lives of people to help build our brand on the mobile platform.”

Head of Marketing, India & SA, Uber

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