By Rahul Dubey
A recent study conducted by Google and IPSOS indicates that India will soon be a ‘mobile first’ nation for communication.
The challenge of advertising on mobile platforms is the most over-rated concern in the digital advertising domain in India. While presence of brands on digital media has only been increasing every year, along with spends, mobile advertising garners a rather negligible share in the total advertising pie. As per recent industry estimates, mobile advertising constitutes not more than 1% share of the total ad spends in the Rs 266 crore advertising industry. An obvious reason for this is slow adoption of smartphone and mobile internet in India. As per data released in the third quarter of 2011, the smartphone market in India was not growing over a 6% rate. However, a recent study conducted by Google in association with IPSOS continues to rely heavily on the potential of mobile media, which is arguably the only omnipotent multi-media device in India. This also reiterates the strong proposition of the world’s largest internet company, Google, which has been reassuring marketers globally that mobile is the future of all-encompassing advertising.
As per recent data released by CyberMedia Research, the smartphone market grew at a rate of 87% as against the feature phone market, which registered 7% year-on-year growth in 2011. However, experts do not deny the fact that the sheer number of mobile phone users (using over 850 million feature phones) cannot drive content and advertising on mobile devices. It’s internet usage on smartphone devices that can drive all forms of advertising, namely search, display, video, rich media and in-app ads. Anuj Khanna Sohum, Founder and Chairman, AD2C explains, “The share of mobile advertising is less than 1%, but we see growing interest of advertisers towards this medium. It is perhaps the only potential medium that reaches almost all kinds of consumers in India. We see advertising on mobile platforms growing ten-fold in the coming years.”
India continues to remain a growing smartphone market, with close to 20 million users. The Google-IPSOS study reveals that Indian smartphone users are highly active on internet usage through smartphone devices, as against users in the most evolved smartphone market of the US. Indians are outscoring Americans in going online from their smartphones. Indian users are also more active on social media than ever before. At least 76% smartphone users in India are accessing social networking sites through their smartphones in comparison to 54% from the US, the report states. Lalitesh Katragadda, Country Head-India, Products for Google explains, “Culturally, even beyond the well-educated category, Indians are curious about technology and device savvy. Like telephony did, the Internet is making the quantum leap from wired to mobile and hundreds of millions of Indians will go online on their mobile devices.”
The beginning of this journey has already started with automobile giants in India, which are today the largest digital and mobile advertisers. Auto giants like Maruti, Mahindra & Mahindra, Volkswagen, which are also one of the largest advertisers, have expressed that they will significantly increase their mobile marketing budgets in the coming years. While a lot remains to be seen from advertisers who are promising mobile advertising, what came as a pleasant surprise to the mobile marketing fraternity this year was an unusual strategic collaboration by a telecom service provider and an internet company. Reliance Communications recently announced its collaboration with Google to attract the fast-growing Android users, to provide them faster internet connectivity and many more cheap applications on smartphone devices. Interestingly, Android OS registered 600% growth in India last year, and that speaks for the first successful chapter of the mobile marketing story.