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The ‘Why to How?’ of Mobile Marketing in India

Mobile marketing is no longer just a buzzword, it has become an integral part of the overall digital marketing strategy for marketers and advertisers in India. The question has moved from “Will you spend on mobile marketing?” to “How much will you be spending?”. It has moved from “Why mobile marketing?” to “How many channels in mobile should we spend on?”. It’s no more limited to just “reach” of the medium, it has evolved beyond that with the possibilities of precise audience data with segmentation, in-depth analytics, measurement tools and technology. All of these facets enhance the user experience through the creativity of content and communication that the medium allows for. It has actually become a marketer’s delight.

The exponential growth of Smartphones and the speed of adoption of the mobile internet by consumers is baffling to say the least. As compared to other markets in Asia, the adoption and user learning curve has been extremely fast in India and therefore marketers are forced to keep up or be left out. Here are some of the mobile, and mobile internet, adoption trends that set the scene:

  • Per Statista, Smartphone users in India will grow from 292 million to over 340 million by the end of 2017
  • Feature phone users are expected to grow further from 684 million to 730 million in 2017
  • 3G/4G users have grown to 120 million and expected to cross 300 million by 2018, as affordability of data is driven by Reliance Jio, Airtel and others
  • According to Google, 60% of overall searches and more than 55% of content consumption on YouTube is done via mobile devices
  • 91% of Facebook users access the site through their mobile devices

Now, what does all this mean for marketers and advertisers? It means they must look at engaging users through newer channels and newer formats within mobile; use innovative technology; enhance creativity and presentation of marketing content; find ways to be less, or even non-intrusive; leverage the medium for its virality and exploit the huge data points and analytics to constantly increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Below are some of the compelling ways in which marketers should look to engage with mobile:

Mobile Commerce – Search, Social and Apps: While mobile apps are a logical extension, in some cases, mobile is the only medium for commerce in India. Using search and social for commerce in the region has provided a clear opportunity to cash in. It is important for marketers to co-create such initiatives or have a definitive strategy to leverage such market places for brands.

Search commerce undoubtedly starts with Google, which drives customers organically to various branded commerce destinations. This space in India has seen quite a lot of action for both ecommerce and travel segments. There is a slew of shopping search engines that help shoppers discover the best products and best prices like Junglee (by Amazon), Skoov, Pricedekho, Shoppingwish, ThisYaThat and CompareIndia.

Social commerce has seen many new players in the ring with the likes of Voonik, Wooplr, Limeroad, Craftsvilla and many more. They are redefining the game in India – Voonik has stylists as part of their team to help you choose the best fashion products. Wooplr on the other hand is a product recommendation and hyperlocal discovery app, where information and availability of products nearby is shared by users. Limeroad has a celebrity style council boasting Bollywood celebrities like Neha Dhupia and Rina Walia, as well as a diverse library of customized fashionable looks.

Non-Intrusive, or Less Intrusive, Native Advertising: Native advertising has already seen great adoption by publishers including social media giants like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Leading publishers in India have begun building a sizable inventory for native advertising. Brands have already started experimenting with various ideas and creative executions in sync with the publishers. FMCG and consumer brands have already seen great results and other verticals like BFSI, real estate and consumer durables are also early adopters. With screen sizes getting smaller on mobile, more native formats are replacing display and publishers are able to command a premium for it. For example, Ecommerce giants, like Flipkart & Snapdeal, have already leveraged the opportunity to become native publishers, as well as advertisers, which is resulting in better ROI than regular advertising on digital platforms.

Programmatic Media Buying: Several aspects of mobile programmatic buying distinguish it from more generic digital mediums like PC’s, as a majority of PC’s are shared devices in India – which is not the case with mobile devices. Hence, for marketers, targeting on mobile becomes more robust and personalized, simply because of the data which it generates at scale. Each biddable impression contains data which can be used by marketers for targeting purposes, whether it is device information, identifiers like IDFA, GAID and Android AD id, or Geo signals and so on. Much of this data is unique, presenting new targeting, buying and optimization opportunities and greater context with which to connect with customers more effectively. Today, we are seeing some of the biggest players across industries like FMCG, retail and auto investing in mobile programmatic.

Chat Apps and Messengers to AI / ChatBots: Chat Apps like WhatsApp, Hike, Jio Chat, Snapchat and Nimbuzz. along with messengers including Facebook and Skype, have surpassed social media users by more than 1.4 billion globally. This presents a huge mobile marketing opportunity with all of them now actively wanting to monetize their bases with innovative formats. Formats like “Owned Chats” and “Sponsored Channel” are run by the brand in closed user groups where contests, polls, content and product launches can be orchestrated. Facebook has also opened its messenger for sponsored ads, though restricted, which are a great opportunity. Facebook’s ChatBot platform has also been opened for monetization. Recently, PNB MetLife launched “Dr. Jeevan”, an artificial intelligence powered interactive ChatBot on the Facebook Messenger platform. The Dr. Jeevan bot helps users understand their health and educate themselves on critical illnesses with interactive videos and personalized responses for PNB MetLife Mera Heart and Cancer Care within the Facebook bot environment.

Using Innovative and Disruptive Technologies like AR, VR: Tech innovations are changing the face of marketing worldwide. In India, many start-ups are working on VR and AR technology that enriches the real world by overlaying digital information such as videos, sound and graphics. According to data from research platform Tracxn, 9 of the 74 Indian start-ups in AR/VR received funding last year.

Virality of Content Marketing and Videos – Content marketing is increasingly used by brands for thought leadership, retaining existing customers, lead generation and customer acquisition. Both Content Marketing and Content Led Marketing are being used, while the former is where you own the media and latter is where you buy space to place content. Increase in and innovative usage of infographics, videos, live streaming and user generated content are being effectively deployed by marketers. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and chat apps are key in a content distribution strategy, along with optimal integration of content to search strategy.

Marketers in India have already started incorporating mobile as a key component in their overall marketing strategy and it is yielding results beyond expectations. Therefore, if you’re a marketer who is on the fence about incorporating mobile in your Indian marketing strategy, go ahead and explore the mobile marketing way – you won’t be sorry you did.