Mobile marketing’s great strength is its flexibility: Rohit Dadwal

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Rohit Dadwal

Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, Mobile Marketing Association, APAC

From SMS to augmented reality based content; and from basic voice to smartphones, mobile media marketing is opening up great opportunities for internet-based businesses. Marketers are lapping up this opportunity to create  greater consumer engagement. In conversation with Pitch, Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, Mobile Marketing Association Asia Pacific (APAC), talks about the media’s potential and challenges in the Indian market. With over 17 years of experience in the digital and mobile spheres, a mobile marketing evangelist, Dadwal is also an active participant of the mBillionth Awards, a platform which felicitates innovation in mobile marketing and technology across South Asia. Excerpts from the interview…

How is mobile marketing as an industry evolving in India? What is the growth potential of this media in the market?
According to the latest TRAI telecommunication subscription figures, as of May 2012 there were 929.37million mobile subscriptions in India. That means that mobile is rapidly evolving to become the best way to reach the largest number of people in India.

A report by the World Bank has more details, as covered in the Economic Times. Mobile phone networks cover 83 per cent of Indians, and the average mobile data speed in India is amongst the highest of developing countries, and is higher than both China and the US.

With its high speed and wide reach, mobile is naturally of great interest to marketers in India, who are already working on different ways to make the most of it. The growth potential of mobile in India is limited only by the inventiveness of entrepreneurs, and the willingness of the Indian mobile user to take up new mobile-based services.

In terms of B2B and B2C mobile marketing, what are the key trends in India? How can marketers leverage from these emerging trends?
Mobile marketing has some special characteristics. At point of contact, it can be very personal, directed almost at the individual user, and in combination with technology such as augmented reality and location-based services can be targeted very effectively. Additionally, mobile integrates very well with other media, often acting as the ‘next step’ that consumers can take to find out more about a product or service. As with all media, mobile marketing will be the most valuable when it is the best fit for the job at hand, and when it is a valuable addition to an existing campaign, whether that campaign is B2B or B2C.

How is the medium fast gaining importance in sectors like healthcare, hospitality, finance and education? Please explain with examples.
The rapid evolution of mobile phones and mobile tablets means that more and more powerful computing power is being put into consumers’ hands. Mobile devices are so personal that they are always in close proximity to their users. This is why mobile is seen as having great potential for the fields that you mention above. Already there are pilot programmes all over the world: mobile commerce in Korea and mobile banking in Africa, for example, and we will see the best of India’s best at this year’s mBillionth awards.

In India, mass consumer still use mobile phones as talking device, what do you think are the challenges for marketers to communicate their ideas with this segment of population?
Mobile marketing’s great strength is its flexibility. It is possible to put together a very flash rich media campaign with sound and video, with web-based and social media components, if your audience is likely to use smartphones and has access to mobile broadband. At the same time, SMS campaigns have a very wide reach, since most users, regardless of device, can receive text messages. Other options include interactive voice response (IVR) campaigns that cater to consumers who prefer to talk or to listen. Marketers merely have to choose the option that matches needs, budget and desired audience.

How can mobile marketing help in the growth of rural markets and consumerism in India? Please elaborate.
With 332.38 million rural subscribers (as of May 2012, according to TRAI), the rural market still represents a minority of Indian mobile subscribers, although it is the segment that is growing at the fastest rate. Consumerism and growth in rural markets is not likely to be driven solely by mobile marketing, because there are far too many other economic factors at play. For example, some mobile services, particularly those dealing with physical products, may have to overcome transportation and other infrastructure challenges before they can be extended to rural customers. Having said that, the rural sector is growing, and that is likely to encourage more services to cater to that segment.

How are smartphones pushing mobile marketing further?
The more sophisticated the device, the more that can be done with it. Smartphones let marketers offer branded apps, for example, that cannot be run on feature phones. This does not necessarily push mobile marketing further, because effective campaigns are not based on the technology behind them, but on how well they reach out to consumers. Smartphones offer marketers more options, but that is no guarantee of a better, more effective or more appropriate campaign.

In India while DND is in force, marketers are using the services of ‘End of call Notification’ to reach out to subscribers. What are other ways to bypass DND, without breaking the law?
We do not advocate any efforts to circumvent Do Not Disturb provisions, which were put in place to protect the privacy of citizens. Mobile marketing works best when consumers themselves have some say in the process and our code of conduct (available at the website) specifically requires that consent must be obtained before consumers are sent marketing material.

Today’s marketer is yet to be convinced of the potential of this media.How do you think mobile can be integrated as a part of the overall communication ecosystem? What do you reckon?
On the contrary, many brands and agencies are already utilising mobile as an integral part of their marketing campaigns, particularly since mobile works very well as a connector between different media. For example, QR codes can be embedded in print ads, which mobile users can scan to take them to interactive video, websites and other sources of information. Mobile continues to grow, at a pace unmatched by any media or technology before it, and marketers are rapidly coming to understand its effectiveness.

What is the road ahead?
Mobile penetration in India still lags behind that of other countries, so there is still potential for growth. How far the mobile marketing industry grows and how mobile users take to mobile marketing efforts still remains to be seen. As consumers themselves become more mobile, more tech-savvy and more digitally-enabled, they will dictate how they want to use their devices, and the changing media landscape is evidence of that happening already.


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