Mobile Conversations 2008: Three signposts for the way ahead

Surina Sayal | afaqs! | Bengaluru, September 29, 2008


At the Bengaluru edition of Mobile Conversations held on September 26 at the ITC Windsor Sheraton, an interesting discussion transpired between the panellists on creativity in mobile advertising and the way ahead.


The panellists included Julian Philips, vice-president, marketing and product management, July Systems; Saurabh Gupta, chief executive officer and founder, Phonethics Mobile Media; and Vijay Parthasarathy, president, Mast Mobile Media. The session was moderated by Tarana Khan, principal correspondent, afaqs!


Julian Philips started his presentation by quoting TRAI’s March 2008 figures, which show that in India, 67 million people have access to the Internet, but only one-third of this number constitutes the active user base. The Internet saw 43 per cent growth between September 2007 and March 2008.


“The potential is huge. Mobile Internet is going to see a much larger subscriber base than PC Internet. In India, mobile is going to be Internet,” he said confidently. “But for this, people are not going to type urls and search for brands. The marketers are going to have to engage and interact with consumers.”


Philips pointed out that marketers are finally taking notice of the mobile as a medium because it can touch users 24 hours of the day.


He said users love to see images on their mobiles, so July Systems has devised flipbooks and product flipbooks, with a mix of information and pictures. He explained that the reach in mobile will be sufficient only when it goes beyond metros, which is why you need regional languages in mobile advertising.


Philips said he was positive that 3G would add to the power of the mobile with videos. For example, a user could get a link to a video alert, which was sponsored by Nike. When he clicked the url and the site opened, the banner advertisement would be that of Nike. And as the video played, it could have an overlay of the Nike logo in the top or bottom corners.


Vijay Parthasarathy of Mast Mobile Media shared that the mobile ad market in India is pegged at Rs 40 crore per annum and poised to grow to Rs 500 crore by 2010. “Mobiles have positives like exceptional reach, interactivity and instant effect,” he said. But the USP of mobile advertising, he said, was the fact that reach was 100 per cent OTS (opportunity to see) or OTH (opportunity to hear).


“An advertiser has to know for sure why he is creating a mobile campaign – it could be for awareness, trial, recall, promotion, footfall enhancement or lead generation,” said Parthasarathy. He also shared that one could generate many activities, such as free offers, market research, get user profiles and need assessment.


Saurabh Gupta of Phonethics Mobile Media talked of how the company has created around 14 characters for different brand campaigns for people to interact with. For example, for Tata Indica Vista, Phonethics created Andy and Leela, who were also present on the brand’s website, which was seamlessly integrated with the mobile campaign. People could interact with them, create and share content with them, receive free content via WAP and SMS and even book test drives by messaging Andy or Leela.


Other cool characters created by Phonethics are IndYeah Singh, Miya Phainkoo, Farmao Jaan, Bai Malaai, Mr Madhuri, Bhakt Harvakt, each of who addresses a different topic like religious beliefs and Bollywood.


The panel agreed that mobile advertising had to be about short story telling and ideally multilingual. Brand stories, said the panellists, are best told using both images and text.


Gupta said he thought that regional languages would aid mobile advertising because they put the advertising in context. “Otherwise, it is like ordering from a menu that’s in French, when you don’t speak it,” he said pithily.


Philips added that while regional languages will boost advertising on the mobile, the question was what kind of content was being created for the consumer to access, “Because even if it is free, it has to be compelling. Consumers will seek and find brands that are compelling,” he said.


The discussion ended with the panellists talking of what they thought would change mobile advertising in the next two years. While Philips felt that video advertising was the future, Gupta said convergence of social media and the mobile was the way forward. For example, one can leave a friend a message on a social networking website like Facebook and get a reply from the friend’s mobile.


Parthasarathy felt that interactivity and richness of media would change mobile advertising in the next couple of years.


Mobile Conversations 2008 in Bengaluru was presented by afaqs! and MyToday in association with mKhoj.


© 2008 afaqs!




Tata Indicom And Mast Mobile Media Partner To Launch First-Ever Interactive Mobile Advertisements Across BREW Applications


San Diego, CA – June 20, 2007


Tata Indicom, India’s premier telecom operator and Mast Mobile Media Pvt. Ltd., an India-based mobile ad media and technology company, today announced the distribution of interactive advertisements in key Tata Zone BREW® applications. These ads from internationally-recognized brands are currently being served in Tata Indicom’s downloadable music, ringtone and wallpaper applications with Infotainment products slated for mobile ads next quarter. Mast Mobile Media provided Tata Indicom with ad-serving technology licensed from eMbience Inc., a U.S.-based mobile technology company which equips brands, advertisers and content providers with tools and templates to design, create and execute robust, multi-media campaigns. Ads in Tata Zone’s BREW applications support many “click-to” actions including interactive voting, free ringtone download, coupons, SMS and call.


With the successful launch of mobile ad campaigns in Tata Indicom’s products, the company will also open the ad-serving technology up to their developer partners. eMbience’s platform includes two unique mobile software development kits (SDKs) that make it possible to receive dynamic ads pre- or post-roll or deeply linked within BREW applications. Through Tata’s developer program, publishers will be able create mobile marketing opportunities for both existing and future applications.


“We are delighted with the creation of this unique mobile marketing service on BREW. With a booming mass market in India, mobile advertising holds tremendous potential and value for both customers and brands”, commented Pankaj Sethi – President of Value Added Services at Tata Teleservices. “We first tested the interactive ad delivery service on our Song Download Express and are now rolling it out to mid and mass market customers, which form the significant and large addressable base. We have been careful when creating this unique advertising delivery service, to ensure an undisturbed customer experience and advertisers have been delighted with the way the highly interactive ads have been blended into the content experience”


“Tata Teleservices is officially the first operator to offer mobile ads within BREW downloadable applications. We are proud to have partnered with them in this exciting development in the world of mobile advertising,” said Dr. Nimish Shrivastava, Founder, Mast Mobile Media. “Once Tata publisher partners take advantage of the technology to place ads in their own products, Tata Indicom will host the first vibrant mobile ad marketplace for worldwide brands ready to make mobile part of their marketing programs.”


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