Hindu Story on Mobile Marketing in India

I was recently quoted in a Hindu story on mobile marketing in India.

I said that mobile marketing is small in India, with most marketers allocating less than 3-5% of the marketing budget to digital and less than 1% to mobile.

Mobile marketing can cover the full spectrum from outbound SMS and voice campaigns to game-like loyalty programs on location based social networks.

SMS and voice have high reach in India, but outbound SMS and voice campaigns are often spammy. Large players like SMSGupShup are trying to add value to SMS marketing by adding CRM-like segmentation features and two way engagement. SMS-based response via short codes is already a popular method of participation in brand contests.

Downloadable or bluetooth-delivered mobile advergames and branded content haven’t really taken off because they need to be customized for each type of handset.

I’m particularly excited about mobile marketing campaigns, especially branded games and game-like loyalty programs, based on augmented reality and location based social networks like FourSquare, MyTown and Gowalla. As of now, Foursquare is small in India with about 80000 users, but its growing fast and I’ll expect brands to start including it in their marketing campaigns by this time next year.

Here is the full text of the Hindu story –

Mobile marketing gathers speed
Vasudha Venugopal

CHENNAI: Consider this: A global food survey firm and a mobile photo sharing venture team up to promote awareness of exotic dishes, making every picture worth a thousand mouth-watering words.

The two businesses allow members to upload food photos clicked with their mobile phones on the firm’s web site, allowing just pictures, and specially designed suggestive icons do the reviewing and the recommending. The increasing use of media-rich devices that support data downloads and applications enable the marketing industry to deliver creativity to the mobile platform. But experts feel the promotional potential of the mobile space can be justifiably exploited only if it delivers a consistent brand experience to every device.

Only 3-5 per cent of the money allotted to marketing is spent on digital promotions, says Gaurav Mishra, a social media practitioner, but with 500 million mobile phone users and 10 million mobile web browsers, the mobile marketing game is picking up speed, he says.

The question is — do marketing firms inevitably limit themselves to popularity and viral metrics when it comes to advertising through mobile phones, or do they think beyond content and comments.

“Branded content that looks perfect on one phone can easily look ‘betrayed’ on another,” says Shailaja Narayanan, a marketing official with a digital marketing firm in Chennai. Factors such as size and resolution of the screens, memory space and, sometimes, even unpredictable downloaded content complicate trust issues between the customers and the brand, she says.

Mobile entertainment companies now provide infotainment in the form of contests and interactivity, music to mobile consumers, helping clients create wireless campaigns, including mobile contests, and voting and promotional applications. Some provide customised music packages to CDMA and GSM carriers, including music programming, action, sports, puzzles, advertising services, astrology, financial services and news alerts.

At the lower extreme of mobile marketing, Mr. Mishra explains, are outgoing SMS and voice messages, which are slightly on the borderline of spam, that most respected brands refrain from using.

Nagadeepa Lakhsmi, a mobile phone user in Chennai, says promotional SMSs and telemarketing calls form a nightmare. “Despite activating call-filtering services and Do Not Disturb (DND) services on my mobile, I keep getting messages and calls on everything, from discounts on land plots to sale of weight reduction equipment — things I am completely uninterested in.”

The incoming ‘code-based’ messaging and the ‘click to call’ and inbound voice strategies used extensively today, Mr. Mishra says, are considered optimal by companies to establish an interactive channel of communication.

The mobile-optimised location-based applications like Foursquare, Gowalla or Brightkite and many social networking giants cater to a larger audience by incorporating location sharing to customer feeds and test out their geo-location features. Some mobile advertising companies send customers offers on their phones when they are near the store of a particular brand.

“At the higher end, the privileges, royalties and innovative services of location-based mobile phone services attract a lot of Indian members,” Mr. Mishra says.

If you would like to interview me for a story or invite me to speak at a conference, please e-mail me at [email protected], call me at +91-9999856940, or connect with me on Twitter.

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