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In conversation: Mondelez’ Bonin Bough on a mobile-first world & ’36-degree’ communication

The concept of 360-degree communication has been replaced by 36-degree communication for Bonin Bough, Vice President, Global Media and Consumer Engagement, Mondelez International who believes that mobile has a very clear role in the marketing industry today, courtesy the relationship that the device has cultivated with consumers. Mondelez’ commitment to mobile was seen when it had announced that 10 per cent of its overall global advertising budget would be spent on the medium, and one of the first big announcements it had made was the deal with Google for mobile-only solutions. In this conversation with DMA, Bonin Bough, speaks on why mobile is important to Mondelez and the strategy that the brand has taken towards the medium. Excerpts:

You had said you are spending 10 per cent of your global advertising budget on mobile – does that take away from your digital budget or other media?
We don’t discuss numbers like that. There are cases where we are converting digital spending into mobile with the goal of focussing on building the mobile capability. Mobile is the one device that is with the consumers almost the whole time and, in a sense, for their complete life. For us, it is very important to cross the consumer journey at various points and connect in that ecosystem.

Is there any development on the back of your deal with Google that you can talk about?
There is a lot of it around media, so we have begun placing media but this is foundation deal, which is first of its kind. The expertise of Google allows us to scale up the ability to build mobile sites across multiple markets, at a fast pace. The challenge for many marketers is that having the aspiration alone does not make you a mobile marketer. You need a platform that is smart super mobile across all your brands to deliver on that promise. Google gives us the best in class in mobile footprint. The other important piece here is capability. Google gets mobile and IOS and, as is true for all our partners, we have to embrace a broader partnership to learn from them across the globe, especially BRIC and Emerging Markets.

Data in favour of mobile has been around for a while now but the allegation is whether you can engage a consumer in a commercial relationship over the medium…
I would argue it is not very hard. The reason why we think it is hard is because no one is doing it. About 25 per cent of media is consumed on a mobile device but less than 1 per cent spend is going behind it. You cannot say that commercially we have really done anything, as a marketing industry. The engagement rates that we see on mobile are far higher than on traditional systems such as desktops. If you deliver the right message and utility at the right time, and it is not spam, then you get greater engagement.

You have said that your mobile strategy is based  on four pillars – would you like to explain these?
We know that video consumption will only increase. In fact, the GCC countries were the number one mobile video consuming market in the world for YouTube last quarter. So it is increasing also in growth markets. The first pillar is mobile video – video equivalency, which essentially means being screen agnostic and ensuring that we deliver consistent quality on mobile videos to bring out the same emotional experience and resonance across all our screens as, for example, on linear TV.

The second pillar is increasing engagement. This is the only device realistically that we have seen in our lifetime that can engage with multiple forms of media. It can engage with print, TV or outdoor. When you look at the spike period of usage, there is data that shows there is consumer behaviour in connecting mobile with other media and activating that media. We need to we use this to raise our engagement level. When we combine digital and TV, we can see the engagement level at 2X. There is some amazing work done in India with cricket and twitter-social-mobile play, work we have done with Superbowl, Cadbury and it goes on and on. This device can augment and enhance the experience of our advertising.

The third pillar is impulse media. We know the big buying times are during commuting and at lunch for instance. We have a skew towards impulse driven products, so why not use this device to target consumers when they are more likely to indulge in a purchase.

And the fourth pillar is loyalty. For the first time ever, we can have a very direct relation with the consumer at the point of purchase. We did not have this before and we can see our success when we reach out to consumers with propositions that have value for them too.

How would you know that this commitment to mobile, and the investment that has followed, was a step in the right direction?
We have been very systematically building and learning what works. I know from the work we have done in the last year that if we can target a consumer with an equity message during their shopping experience, we can drive significant lift in sales. The question now is, are there enough platforms to develop that message in stores. We don’t look for silver bullet – there is no one big scale platform that can change the world. But there are enough players that when aggregated together provide scale. Instead of looking for that one player, we are saying what do we learn about targeting people in store and what are the platforms that are working. Let’s now find replicas of these and piece it together between our global agencies and regional agencies and bring scale. We have developed nine pilots across markets to give us insight into this, so we know the things that work and now we have to focus on scale.

Would you agree that mainline or traditional agencies also understand mobile?
We love our agencies. They are some of the brightest people around. It’s not that agencies don’t want to bring mobile solutions to clients – they are ahead of the curve in terms of pushing clients to go to those places. Clients don’t want to invest into mobile solutions right now. It takes a little bit of trust in directional data. We all know how important this device us – now we need to get emotionally comfortable, fast enough with this device so we can move quickly to put it in our marketing mix. And we are focussed on doing that.

Does the lack of measurement in mobile bother you?
We are laser-focussed on measurement. But in cases where you don’t have specific data, you have to make a decision in terms of whether you trust the directional data that you have, especially in growth areas. This is not a mobile-first but a mobile-only market and some markets have consumers with two mobile devices. Just because the specific measurement technology we use has not caught up to where consumers are, doesn’t undermine the importance of the medium itself. Organisations are early adopters of technology so for some people their first encounter with emails was at work. But at some point of time, when technology came over in social, organisations flat-lined and the consumer adoption curve grew so fast that we have a gap now. We have to be very cognisant that the gap exists and we have to be relentless to close it.

What are some of the other things we expect from you in the year ahead?
I want to underscore that this is a commitment towards holistic media. We put in place our global communication planning, with our agencies, to work on global brands. The whole point of bringing communication planning into the organisation is because it is not about 360 degree communication anymore, but about 36 degree communication. What are the specific touch points that we know based on our consumer journey research – buy, awareness, explore, encounter – where there challenges in the process of connecting with the consumer. How do we identify the specific marketing levers that can move the consumer across the journey in places key to us. We are very systematic about plotting that out in a connections map that shows what the consumer experience is going to be and how each of these things connect to each other. If awareness is about a big video, where does that big video take the consumer to next – how does it drive to explore and then to buy, how are we structuring the journey in a very systematic schematic approach.

For us, that is what you would continue to see. We would be looking at the holistic ecosystem, being very systematic about understanding the consumer media consumption behaviours, the challenges that we face, the creative solution from our agencies and then plotting it on a map and measuring it with an attribution modelling so we can see what in that journey is working, what is not and where can we dial up.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.