Ekalavya-Bhattacharya-Digital-Head-MTV-IndiaEveryone is going ga-ga about mobile, but trust me when it comes to advertising, mobile is the most overrated platform.

Why?

Because people don’t click on mobile ads.
Trust me, they don’t.

Now you’ll read research reports everywhere – of course done by publishers and agencies – saying mobile advertising is awesome. It’s their job to be saying that.

Consumption of content is hugely shifting to mobile devices and a large inventory is available. Publishers and agencies are in the business-of-business and it is their job to tell you that mobile advertising is awesome. What they don’t tell you is about the fake clicks and that most clicks anyway happen by mistake.

Why don’t people click on ads?
Now this is a general statement. I’m not saying people don’t click on ads at all. But let us take a step back and look at the typical mobile user.

What you need to realise is that, people are not on mobile devices to consume ads. If you think that consuming advertising and marketing information is why consumers are moving to smart phones – No they are not.

They are talking to people, watching content, reading stuff, seeing pictures, playing games etc.

WILFING is not something I’ve seen happen a lot on mobile devices. It pretty much happens only within Facebook (when people are on Mobile devices). I still don’t know of people who will open their Youtube mobile app on the phone saying, OK – I don’t know what I want to watch – let me just randomly surf. No! That doesn’t happen. People either are looking for something specific on Youtube or land up via clicking on a link somewhere.

It’s a small screen. It’s a personal screen. I don’t care about your ad. Ok?

The biggest thing is people usually know what they are getting into. i.e. if they are on WhatsApp, they are there to send someone a message. If I’ve landed on Youtube to specifically see something, I don’t care about your ad. If I am on Candy Crush, I am looking to cross a level. And I’m glad Candy Crush limits ads and concentrates on the commerce angle.

This brings me to how to get Mobile right. Mobile is going to be huge. Huge not in terms of advertising revenue from other brands, but transactions from consumers. These transactions can of course vary – Extra lives on Candy Crush, a pizza order, a hotel booking etc.

If you are a service or a product which is sold – should you be on mobile? YES!

What should you be doing? Have an app and a great mobile site (great in terms of usability). The mobile device is the most convenient device. Make the transaction experience great.

Should you be advertising? Well Yes and No.
If you are Domino’s, should you be telling people on their mobile devices that your Pizzas are awesome? Lol. No!

Should you be telling people to download the Domino’s App and then order from it and get a 10% off – Yes!

And this should extend itself to everything. This is not about ROI. This is about common sense. Your ROI should not be CTR, CPA and all that crap. It should be ARPU.

So what happens to players who usually advertise for branding reasons. Should you be making a gaming app (or something in that space)? Well, why don’t you go check the iTunes and Android Play Store and see how many branded apps make it to the Top 50 lists. Zero!

People don’t want to consume Advertising. They are becoming smarter. If the digital space is evolving, so are the users.

Why do most brands advertise in the first place? You have a campaign and you may need to tick off the mobile KPI check-box. This of course is a part of your over-all marketing KRA’s and you need to do it to impress your boss. Do not randomly buy display ads everywhere. It’s going to be a waste. All you’ll get is a nice looking excel sheet with some random numbers.

But what should you be doing?
Invest in content. Invest in branded content. Invest in content which is not about your brand, but your brand is still visible. Don’t make it seem like an ad.

Now branded content is tricky. The end consumer will watch, but he won’t share the video unless it’s great content and of course it shouldn’t seem like a piece of sell-out content.

See this video which talks about Coke and their marketing plans:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LerdMmWjU_E
I think it’s brilliant.

Ride on content created by other people. You don’t need to be creating everything on your own. Don’t limit yourselves to a simple logo presence (And please don’t be anal about the size of your logo), but be careful in not over doing it. i.e. The piece of content should not become a glorified ad. 30-40% of your over-all budget should go into content creation, the remaining 60-70% should go into pushing this content out. Now you have something meaningful to advertise.

Brands need to start thinking about investing in good share-able content. Don’t worry about what device are they going to be watching it on. At least 30% of all video consumption is happening on Mobile devices now. This is still a far better bet than running your TVC as a pre-roll on Youtube ads. Brands who still do that as their ‘Youtube Strategy’ should a) Hire someone smart b) Fire their current agency.

Who is mobile advertising the easiest for? Hotels and restaurants.
Are all of them doing it right? Unfortunately no!

Now if you are a hotel / restaurant – don’t go about advertising randomly all over the web. Use mobile advertising on search services.

Imagine you are a hotel in Mahabaleshwar – If anyone searches for a hotel in Mahabaleshwar or for places near Mumbai and Pune – you need to be advertising in the most popular Travel App out there. You need to be advertising on Hotel Booking apps. Please don’t pay your agency for a random media plan on random travel blogs. Be specific. Presence on Travel Blogs should not be in the form of mobile ads.

Additionally, TripAdvisor and Agoda don’t always make it easy for a consumer. Example: You want to visit Langkawi in Malaysia. You find five 4-Star hotels who pretty much have the same ratings. How does one pick the final one? The one which has an offer running wins!People love offers. Just the feeling of getting a good deal is what drives e-commerce. Get your offer correct. Sacrifice a bit of your mobile marketing budget to be able to afford giving discounts to mobile customers.

Restaurants?
If you are at a restaurant in Bandra (A Mumbai sub-urb) – and if someone is searching for a restaurant in Bandra on an app like Zomato (Zomato doesn’t have ads on their app yet, weird!), your restaurant needs to be out there. On the top! Don’t fake your reviews. Also please don’t randomly spend money acquiring fans on Facebook. Use JustDial, use every local search product to reach out to people.

Advertising on Google vs Advertising on Zomato? Well it is the same as advertising on Google vs Advertising on TripAdvisor if you are a hotel. It’s not rocket science. It is all about the context. Where is your audience and who specifically are you trying to reach out to?

If you are a media company or a TV channel and want to tell people about your newest show, I’d suggest changing communication fromTune-in to watch on Saturday 8PM to ‘Watch Now’ or ‘Watch Online’. Stop thinking of trying to convert a guy who is consuming content on a mobile device to a TV watcher. Won’t happen. Trust me. Think convergence and content consumption as one. It’s nice to see Star Sports doing this. In the longer run, people will pay for convenience.

Mobile advertising on Facebook – it’s pretty good for App Installations. Average CPI cost is ridiculous though. I would never spend Rs 30 on an app installation if my ARPU is not going to be at least Rs 31.

Another thing is try not to have a separate mobile agency and a separate digital agency and a separate social media agency. They all go hand-in-hand. Choose someone who gives you a great idea which works on all platforms.

Mobile might be the future of business, but when it comes to advertising – it has a long long way to go. Also, it’s not for everyone. Please don’t waste your brands money for the sake of impressing your marketing boss.

Here is another older but decent read.

These are my individual views and not of the channel that I work in.

Ekalavya Bhattacharya is the Head of Digital for MTV India. The views expressed here are personal. This post is crossposted with permission from Ekalavya’s blog.