The ad-mad mobile screen

| Updated on: Mar 13, 2014
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Marketers now promise to pay consumers to watch ads

This is a no-brainer. Many viewers find TV ads intrusive and reach for their favourite weapon - the remote control - to skip channels and avoid ads. In an era of fragmented TV viewership, mobile phone makers and service providers say they can offer an alternative in the form of the growing number of mobile internet users in India. Far from being intrusive like TV ads, they are attempting to rewrite the rules through apps that reward consumers to watch ads.

Last year, Tata Docomo launched its mobile advertising app, Tata Docomo GET, which offers consumers free talk-minutes to watch ads. Says Sunil Tandon, Head of Non-Voice Services at Tata Teleservices Ltd, “Mobile advertising is the new buzzword ever since the term SoLoMo (Social Local Mobile) was coined. While the growth in mobile advertising revenues across the globe has been nothing short of phenomenal, we were looking at options that are refreshingly different for mobile users as well as advertisers. With the availability of affordable, high-resolution and large-screen smartphones, the ubiquity of mobile devices and the arrival of faster data networks, we believe the time is ripe for rich, media-led mobile advertising.”

However, the customer will always get to decide if he or she wants to opt for it or not, he adds. The app is available on Google Play, Get Jar, Ovi Store and Blackberry app stores among others.

“The response has been very exciting with a highly involved customer base, which keeps interacting with us and helps us improve the experience continuously,” says Tandon. Handset makers such as HTC and Nokia, FMCG players such as GSK, fashion brand Fastrack, banks and ecommerce players have shown interest in the app to reach out to consumers.

Handset-maker Micromax joined the bandwagon earlier this year, offering free calls, SMS or other VAS services to consumers for watching ads. Users earn points for viewing advertisements or video previews that appear every time they make a call; they can also see the ads through the app.

Shubhodip Pal, Chief Marketing Officer, Micromax, said, “With Micromax MAd, we have aimed to create a powerful medium to entertain and connect with consumers by lending them our ears, to voice their areas of interest and preferences, and incentivising it through rewards.”

According to the company, while this helps increase ARPU (average revenue per user) for all telecom providers, it also helps brands break away from the clutter and connect with consumers in a direct and personalised way.

Micromax’s brand partners include Future Group, Britannia, Perfetti, Johnson & Johnson, Toshiba, Coca-Cola and others, whose advertisements will be published on the MAd application.

Media experts say mobile phones as advertising medium offer information about consumer demographics, location and usage pattern and this, in turn, provides valuable insights into consumer behaviour. The Internet and Mobile Association of India foresees 185 million users of mobile internet by June next year. Digital ad spends too have been growing 25-30 per cent year on year and are estimated at ₹2,500-3,000 crore in India.

Pal believes it’s only a matter of time before marketers make mobile phones an integral part of media plans. He sees it as a game-changer for operators looking for innovative ways to improve profitability from every user. “Being an opt-in service, MAd does not force any consumer to watch advertisements without his or her wish.  It is not like the plethora of services in the market that force consumers to accept any random offering; instead, it is rewarding them with the content they enjoy,” he adds.

Tata Docomo’s Tandon points out the GET service is completely measurable and does not work on averages or samples like most other mediums. “With the advent of such an inventory, we are positive that the overall interest of the brands will deepen in the realm of mobile advertising, thus benefiting the overall space immensely,” he said.

Media experts believe this kind of advertising will greatly connect with the youth, a segment that makes up nearly 50 per cent of the overall mobile internet users. So like most other things about youth, will this too be a passing fad? Or, like Micromax’s advertising campaign for the offering goes, will consumers continue to be “Mad about Ads”?

Published on March 13, 2014

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