Mobile Advertising A New Business Opportunity For The Advertisers

Wherever we see, people are hooked on to their phones. The power of mobile audience is like a tsunami that’s going to hit India shortly. But mobile advertising is still in its teenage years and brands need to inculcate better storytelling and capture the space before it is cluttered. Eminent research company for India, which had some interesting insights, one of them being– 89 per cent of marketers felt they’ve under invested in mobile advertising.

All marketers know there is enough scope for mobile advertising but the findings of the report suggest not all marketers are giving mobile the attention it needs. Flipkart’s Myntra, for instance, went out of its way to launch Myntra as an app-only platform. What went wrong for Myntra was that it was ahead of its time when it did this. Consumers in India need both – mobile and desktop experience — and taking one away will just be foolish. No wonder it realised the mistake sooner and launched the website version again.

Another interesting fact is that marketers are somewhere scared of mobile advertising. Mobile being a private device has to be thought through very wisely and brands need to get it right. spoke to a few experts to know the scope of mobile advertising in India, what marketers need to get right when it comes to mobile advertising and much more.


The simple economics of advertising dictates that advertisers gravitate to media where consumers spend most of their time. As of 2016, consumers were spending an average of 25 per cent of their daily time on mobile devices, but advertisers were pumping in only 12 per cent of their ad dollars in the mobile economy. This level of inefficiency begs the question: why are advertisers not investing adequately to tap the monetisation potential of the mobile economy?

Firms will typically give two reasons. One, they claim that people do not respond favourably to mobile advertising and that they do not engage sufficiently with their messages. Two, they claim that even if some people engage, investments in mobile platforms do not generate commensurate returns, such as triggering product sales. Both these claims are incomplete characterisations of reality at best and factually wrong at worst. To harness the potential of a $3 trillion plus mobile economy globally, both these issues can be addressed.

First, let’s take the issue of inadequate consumer engagement with marketing campaigns on the mobile channel. Consumers generally find advertising on mobile devices annoying. They dislike ads that ruin their browsing or content-consumption experience because they are either redundant or irrelevant. The reason is simple. Even in today’s data-intensive world, the majority of firms don’t have contextually relevant information about the preferences of their consumers. Therefore, there exists a disconnect between consumers and marketers with respect to what people want, when they want it, where they want it and how they want it. Due to the lack of relevant and reliable consumer data, people get exposed to an array of irrelevant offers and at a frequency that aggravates the problem. People get overwhelmed and tune out of advertising.

What are the causes of this disconnect between consumers and mobile advertisers? First, the current ad-tech ecosystem is fragmented. This makes access to relevant and real-time consumer preference data problematic. In a world of digital advertising, several entities exist between advertisers and publishers (such as ad exchanges, data management platforms, demand side platforms, and supply side platforms). These intermediaries came into existence in recent years as the world of digital marketing moved from traditional approaches to automated methods (programmatic marketing). They do have access to consumer data but the data typically exist in silos. It is non-trivial to reliably stitch all the consumer profile data from these disparate sources together.

The second aspect is related to consumers’ misunderstanding about how much data firms have about them. Their level of trust in business ‘privacy policies is low. People tend to believe that firms have a lot of data about consumers which they sell or share with other firms. Or, to be less dramatic, that firms are not as circumspect as they need to be when it comes to handling data. Consequently, “they” inundate us with ads and offers. This kind of misguided thinking, results in a vicious cycle in which consumers become more cynical and further withhold their data, instead of sharing it with firms. Consumers should come forward and share more of their data with firms. It is this kind of information sharing that will sow the seeds of less frequent but more targeted, more relevant and less frequent ads in the mobile economy. A survey had indicated that 57 % of Indian consumers were willing to trade their privacy for convenience — significantly above the global average of 29%.

Hope of new method

Elaborating on the scope of mobile advertising, Lavin Punjabi, CEO and Co-Founder, mCanvas, said, “One can’t underestimate the power of the mobile audience. It’s a tsunami that’s going to hit the Indian shores shortly and marketers are wondering what they should do. Look around you, everyone from your friends, parents, kids, shopkeepers, on the train or plane or bus, at events while someone is speaking, watchmen, drivers – everyone’s hooked on. In 2016, time spent on mobile surpassed television. That in very simple words tells you about the scope of mobile advertising.”

Mobile advertising in India is largely under done. As the reports suggests, 89 per cent of the marketers feel they have underinvested in mobile advertising. Most brands and agencies have no mobile specialists in their marketing teams. Mobile needs to have a seat on the marketing table because it’s a device very different from television and desktop or laptop, he said.

Punjabi further explained, “Mobile ads today are boring and lack the magical feel that TV created. Mobile advertising is still in its teenage years. As it matures we’ll see it being done better by marketers and technology companies. That is why brands need to inculcate better storytelling in mobile ads and narratives as a part of their larger brand strategy and capture the space before it is cluttered.”

According to Amaresh Godbole, Managing Director, DigitasLBi India, most are afraid of mobile advertising. “All marketers have been talking about reinventing digital presence on mobile for a while. Our clients too have been taking the mobile first approach, or making sure their platforms are mobile friendly or their content is optimised for mobile. In the last couple of years, a lot of people are chasing mobile applications. But we realised that every brand doesn’t need to have a native mobile application. A serious utility makes sense for the brand to have a mobile application,” he said.

In the last one year, the mobile advertising inventory was quite less and it is expected to catch up this year and in the next year. Mobile advertising has to be thought through a little more because mobile is still a very personal device. Anything you put out there people look into it differently than they do it passively from a third device.

On the condition of anonymity, a senior media planner, said, “The scope for mobile advertising will be on-going. A lot of big players have seen their views quadruple after the launch of Jio. Mobile advertising is also growing and the overall impact is also more. If the new guys get added to the spectrum, the penetration will go up. Brands should focus more on mobile advertising and reaching the consumer, than just being worried about spends.”

Ashish Shah, Founder and CEO, Vertoz, thinks that India is one of the largest markets for smartphone users and it will continue to grow. For Shah, the generation of millennial form 41 per cent of the target audience, which is a large number. Shah says the big challenge for advertisers is to keep these fast-paced, busy, young adults engaged to their messages. “The generation is changing and so is the nomenclature. This generation is called ‘Screenagers’ as 34 per cent of the time is spent on smartphones, which is triggered by the launch of 4G services, drop in data prices and the impact of demonetisation. Hence, mobile, by default promises a bright future for the advertising industry in India.”


Personalisation in advertising messages is key to keep the audience engaged, especially on mobile. Programmatic advertising can be a boon to the advertising industry as it is an organised tool to deliver personalised ads to customers. It is a game changer in the digital advertising buying industry. The report too says that 63 per cent of the audience is comfortable with use of data for personalisation. Shah explained, “Majority of the audience believes in connection. What can be better than a storytelling approach that creates a brand personality? It gives a purpose to keep our customers engaged and after all the whole idea is to keep our customers engaged. And the audience appreciates purposeful ads and the purpose is mostly served in videos, which also justifies the report data on their preferences.” Mobile has the power to create more sensory experiences for brands. It has so many sensors and features which if integrated effectively into one’s marketing message could bring one’s brand story to life and connect personally with each user.

Punjabi added, “Imagine if you could be teleported into the driver’s seat of a new car — where you can pan your phone in 360 degrees to see every internal corner of the car. Or if you could pan your phone to experience the view from an apartment of a real estate company. Or if you could do digital trials by taking a selfie and trying products on yourself (AR) straight from your phone instead of walking into a store. My simple tip to marketers is to ask for more (from your agencies) than standard banners and pre-roll video. This attention deficit generation hate these formats and have expressed their discontent by installing ad blockers. We need to implement smart and innovative ways to reach the audience, which is very perceptive and intelligent today.” Shah suggested, “Advertising is a dynamic industry and there are lots of ways to exploit these options, there are no set of rules to achieve this as it all depends on how unique your methods are that make you stand out of the crowd.  However, there are some basic and standard ways to explore the plethora of mobile generation.”

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