Updated – #Outlook14: What Indian Mobile Advertising Companies Plan To Do


As a part of our #Outlook14 series, we asked heads of mobile advertising companies – Komli, Nimbuzz, Vserv.mobi and Opera about their focus areas for 2014, and the challenges that the mobile advertising ecosystem needs to address.

MediaNama: Which according to you were the top developments with respect to the mobile advertising segment in 2013? How do you think the segment has evolved from 2012 to 2013?

Ashwin Puri, VP Mobile, Komli

- Increase in inventory from smartphones as a % of the overall inventory and Android continued to dominate this growth
- Advertising spends from VAS companies reduced in India due to telco regulatory changes
- Increased interest from Indian advertisers in rich media campaigns, hyper local
- Top Indian advertisers (specifically travel, ecommerce) came out with their own mobile applications for smart phones and started spending money to distribute these campaign
- Increase in mobile advertising spends on Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter

Anubhav Sharma, Head of Ad Sales and Monetisation, Nimbuzz

- Specifically on mobile advertising, 2013 saw companies getting into it, but these were mere extensions of web campaigns.
- Investments in native mobile web campaigns were made, but it was more of a wait & watch approach.
- It’s a natural adoption curve that brands are on and hence the indications are right that 2014 should see more brands investing in leveraging the true potential of mobile to engage with customers.

Dippak Khurana, CEO & Co-founder, Vserv.mobi

- Smart Phone advertising evolved into smart advertising in 2013. Brands started to focus on audience targeting & engagement instead of just targeting by platform.
- Leading Telcos ventured into the mobile advertising opportunity through in-house development of a mobile advertising service or strategic partnerships with mobile ad exchanges.
- Marketers have started integrating Mobile in the overall media mix facilitating advertising, distribution and transaction through the same channel. Lines between advertising, distribution and transactions continue to blur.
- Advertising & In-App purchases continued to grow as preferred revenue models in 2013, while developers started moving away from Paid Downloads.
- In 2012, mobile advertising witnessed adoption by fewer categories like Telcos, Internet first companies etc., while in 2013 mobile marketing with its ubiquity and efficacy attracted many brand owners.
- Native mobile advertising saw some adoption while brands also started experimenting with location based advertising
- In terms of technology, mobile advertising witnessed better and effective targeting and RTB (Real Time Bidding) enabled platforms gained early traction.

*****

MediaNama: Which according to you were the roadblocks faced by the segment in 2013?

Ashwin Puri, VP Mobile, Komli

- Many brands and advertisers in 2013 did not have a complete presence on mobile with no mobile optimized websites or apps in place.
- Mobile as an advertising medium is different from the desktop.  Advertisers attempting to duplicate their desktop campaigns i.e. landing pages, creative saw sub-optimal performance

Anubhav Sharma, Head of Ad Sales and Monetisation, Nimbuzz

- Smartphones, by their very nature, are context aware devices that alter response by using its listening, talking and location deriving abilities. Brands can actually leverage each one of those functions, to create engaging campaigns. However for now the focus has been limited to its display functionality.

*****

MediaNama: Which are the consumption patterns that you observed in 2013?

Ashwin Puri, VP Mobile, Komli

- Consumers started spending more time on apps Vs web
- The number of tablet devices increased with cheaper android tablets gaining market share. This resulted in a manifold increase in the consumption of media on tablets

Anubhav Sharma, Head of Ad Sales and Monetisation, Nimbuzz

- With apps becoming preferred service delivery models, the number of apps that were created and listed in the respective apps stores increased.
- We’re now living in a more of a search led economy. A mobile phone today is valued on the apps that are available for it. Software is edging past hardware in innovations.
- User centric campaigns were more efficient; whether it was those that involved crowdsourced ideas or problems, or a continuous conversation with consumers.

Dippak Khurana, CEO & Co-founder, Vserv.mobi

- Besides browsing, email and chat, Mobile Internet users love downloading mobile content and ‘Game / App’ is the most downloaded type of mobile content
- Mobile internet users enjoy receiving mobile content (56%) and locating services nearby (42%) through mobile ads. Relevant and location based advertising will provide higher engagement in this region

*****

MediaNama: Which were your favorite mobile ad campaigns in 2013?

Ashwin Puri, VP Mobile, Komli

- For a major Indian bank promoting their premium credit cards Komli Mobile executed a hyper local campaign tapping relevant audiences across 15 cities and specific areas like airports, hi-end malls, golf courses, 5- Star hotels
- For a leading internet company we drove engagement via an innovative ad unit where the user clicks on a banner to add an event to their phone’s calendar

Anubhav Sharma, Head of Ad Sales and Monetisation, Nimbuzz

- Our association with Life Ok, a Hindi entertainment channel, to provide the Nimbuzz Chat Buddy to launch The Bachelorette, a dating reality show starring Bollywood starlet Mallika Sherawat, was a favourite. The Buddy created one-to-one engagement through questions around Mallika’s eventful Bollywood career and her exciting personal life. The Bachelorette Buddy reached out to over 25 million Nimbuzz users in India on their mobile phones giving Life Ok an opportunity to initiate a dialogue with the masses through a format native to the Nimbuzz platform.

Dippak Khurana, CEO & Co-founder, Vserv.mobi

Three campaigns that were my personal favourite were:

*****

MediaNama: How do you see mobile as a medium affecting the entire digital industry in 2014?

Ashwin Puri, VP Mobile, Komli

- Share in spends on mobile are going to increase and more and more brands will be investing in creating their mobile properties/apps and promoting them.
- As mobile spends increase on app downloads, the next evolution will be for brands to start using retargeting on mobile to get to users who have downloaded the apps but are not using them frequently

Anubhav Sharma, Head of Ad Sales and Monetisation, Nimbuzz

-  Brands will no longer be able to have one strategy to fit all platforms hence they will have to invest separately for mobile advertising strategies. Mobile will soon separate itself from web advertising.
- The way this ecosystem is evolving, the top 20% of the platforms on mobile with display inventory will drive 80% of traffic. Hence there will be a shortage of display inventory for advertisers.

Dippak Khurana, CEO & Co-founder, Vserv.mobi

- Mobile Internet user base in India is fast approaching the 200 million mark. Around 40% of all mobile internet users in India have mobile as their only internet access point
- With India’s app developer base estimated at 250,000 and expected app downloads to be around 8.4 billion by 2016, Indian mobile users are heavily consuming apps
- There is also an increasing number of regional and localised content and apps being developed to cater to the huge untapped non-English natives and consumers who desire local data
- These factors will turbocharge the mobile industry and make this medium the most powerful tool for advertisers to reach consumers in real time.

*****

MediaNama: What are the likely trends that you expect to see in 2014? Why?

Ashwin Puri, VP Mobile, Komli

- Further increased penetration of smartphones & Android in the market
- Mobile as a share of the digital ad spends is going to grow in India
- Brands will move away from standalone mobile campaigns to having integrated campaign launches across both desktop and mobile environments

Dippak Khurana, CEO & Co-founder, Vserv.mobi

- OEM and Telcos will make mobile marketing a mainstay of their media plan for all campaigns in 2014
- Retail categories like food chains etc. will start scaling up their mobile marketing experiments  to more cities as opposed to fewer cities in 2013
- The auto industry is geared up for a large number of  launches in 2014
- FMCG as a sector experimented heavily in 2013 and now with a better understanding they will increase the frequency of the campaigns and look at effective mobile marketing, maximising their mobile media spends
- We expect rich media ad formats such as video ads, HTML5 etc to become mainstream in campaigns.  Advertisers will also demand deeper understanding of the mobile platform to create marketing strategies that drive relevant engagements. We will see an increased adoption of native mobile ads as these ads, with the right content and context will be designed to merge seamlessly with the app and not interrupt the user experience.
- Through technology, various targeting parameters about users can be utilized to serve relevant ads based on their advertiser ID. Ad impressions that are enriched by this third-party data through RTB, enable advertisers to bid intelligently on mobile inventory on an impression-by-impression basis, cost effectively and efficiently.
- There will be an increasing number of regional and localised content and apps being developed to cater to the huge untapped non-English natives and consumers who desire local data.
- Publishers who did not port their offline content to digital will leapfrog the online medium and their content will directly come to mobile to reach out to a larger audience.
- From a global trend standpoint, the advent of new technology like wearable computing devices such as Google Glass, smart watches as hugely discussed at CES 2014, will spur marketing efforts as brands will try to keep up with engaging mobile users, with a cross-device consumer targeting strategy.
- Advertisers will look to adopt marketing strategies that best reflect multi-screen consumer behaviour.

MediaNama: What are the challenges in the mobile advertising segment that would need to be addressed in 2014?

Ashwin Puri, VP Mobile, Komli

- Helping brands and e-com sites see scale through distribution of their apps and consequently re-targeting those users to show engagement and transactions
- Segmenting users on mobile through demographic information sourced from data sources like social networks, operator data on subscribers etc.
- Further use of new and exciting ad formats which promote brand engagement like video and hyperlocal

*****

Mobile Advertising Trends for 2013 & 2014 from Opera Mediaworks

Note: The following are world trends. The company did not respond to us regarding India trends

Mahi de Silva, CEO

- Slow decline of the traditional banner ad. Though traditional banner ads still comprise more than half of all ads served on the Opera Mediaworks platform.
- More significantly than ad-volume share, rich-media ad units are expected to contribute to overall mobile ad revenue in the coming year.
- Interactive voice ads made their market debut. Nuance Communications, the company behind the technology that powers Siri and Dragon Dictate, this year introduced a rich media ad unit that uses voice to interact with customers. Opera Mediaworks was the first to use the unit in the United States, with a campaign for the national airline JetBlue.
- In the beginning of 2013, much of mobile targeting was done with contextual information, such as device and connection type. As the year progressed, more complex types of targeting became popular as marketers saw better conversion rates from privacy-friendly optimization methods including frequency capping and segmentation by OS version.
- In the battle for mobile ad market share, Android wins. The iPhone was and still is the No. 1 driver of mobile-ad revenue on the ad platform, consistently outperforming Android by about 10 percentage points each quarter. However, Samsung had a breakthrough year in mobile sales and drove up the total number of Android devices worldwide. By late fall, it became clear that Android was the global leader in ad impressions.

Note: Answers have been edited for for brevity