What’s On

Experts debate whether mobile offers marketers enough options to spend

The famous “year of mobile” came and left, even as the  medium continues to be a focal point of interest for all concerned, and arguably still needs to be decoded from a marketing perspective. Today, there are enough examples of cases where even the marketers who assigned spends dedicated to mobile did not find enough ad options or repeatable formats to put those spends to good use. The subject was debated at Mobillion India 2015 where industry veterans Vikas Gulati, Managing Director, Asia Pacific at Opera Mediaworks and Tushar Vyas, Managing Partner of South Asia at GroupM locked horns on the opportunities for marketers for creating brand identity on the mobile platform.

Ronita Mitra, Senior Vice President of Brand and Insights in India at Vodafone was  the Debate Chair, as  Mr Gulati and Mr Vyas argued for and against the motion respectively.

Various researches have pointed out that despite the entire buzz around mobile marketing in India there is still a very small percentage of advertising spends that go to mobile and most of them are largely focussed on mobile search.

According to Mr Gulati, “mobile is not intrusive but an engaging tool. Brands have conventionally loved the television medium but they are making efforts to give the same experience to its consumers on mobile.” He further added that mobile is capable to adding audiences like no other device.

Going forward in 2015 and beyond, the broader areas that mobile will be looking more closely at include audience targeting, video and native advertising. As compared to its counterparts in the Western and the European countries , India still has a long way to go in the mobile marketing but it is the pace of its growth that will put the mobile story of India at the forefront.

Mr Vyas formed his motion around the argument that mobile is not just a medium but an ecosystem. “Being an output driven medium it is facing various challenges such as changing currency and governance issues,” he said.

Marketers need to understand that interruption cannot be termed as innovation. A lot of brands in the Indian marketing arena are looking at innovation in brand communication but the approach has to be tactical and not fundamental in order to drive maximum benefits of brand building on mobile, Mr Vyas added.

Specific to the Indian marketing arena, issues such as investment in mobile content, readiness of multi-lingual audience and the inability of mobile handsets to adopt hi-end technology are some major concerns that continue to haunt the growth of mobile, he added in support of his argument against the motion at the debate.

While Mr Vyas also could not deny the success story of the mobile, he pointed out that the growth of mobile in India will be a victim of the same mistakes which we were made in the dot-com age. Instead of shrinking desktop ads to mobile, advertisers should be focussed on creating mobile-friendly ads. But both, Mr Gulati and Mr Vyas agreed that the quick turnaround time of digital will contribute largely to building brands on mobile.

The Debate Chair, Ms Mitra, concluded that despite the strong case for mobile, the truth was that marketers’ spend on the medium is marginal. The industry needed to work together a lot more closely to change this, and to create a roadmap to achieve this.