Mobile has opened up the floodgates to advertising innovation that may not be possible on any other device. With an assured incentive for every stakeholder in the business, mobile advertising is all set to grow by 74% to reach Rs 2230 crore by the end of 2017


(With inputs from Samarpita Banerjee)


Marketers, both the traditional and the new-age digitally savvy ones, have been harping the same tune of late, with Mobile becoming an important platform to reach out to their customers, courtesy our heightened dependency on the hand-held device. While there is more data than one can absorb on the scale of growth mobile advertising has witnessed in the last couple of years, we ask industry experts how Mobile has added fuel to the fire of the adman’s creativity.


Mobile has bundled within itself all the benefits that Digital advertising has to offer. It allows for a targeted reach that marketers are most enthused about, it brings in ROI transparency, aids publishers with Real-Time-Bidding (RTB) options and at the same time benefits users too, with reward-based models that can be leveraged with the right strategy. Talking about creativity in the Mobile medium, Tarun Chugh, MD & CEO of Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance, says, “Creativity is limitless; but at the same time you need to have a format. Mobile is the new format. People need to start looking at Mobile as a whole different segment. The messaging for Mobile has to be specific, with a pin-pointed thought process, the messaging has to be clear and succinct and at the same time it should appeal to users.”

Talking from an online publisher’s perspective, Azim Lalani, Business Head, Firstpost, says, “Online news consumption on Mobile has grown exponentially, and ad spends are getting rewarded. What we have observed at Firstpost is that it is not just content or the technology that gets rewarded in silos, but rather the union of both that yields results. If creativity is approached with the right mix of context, technology and implementation, the success rate is always high.”


Advertisers have also attributed the success of Mobile creativity to the media flexibility Mobile has provided advertisers with. With Rich Media insertions like AR, VR and ad-gaming interfaces, advertisers have an array of options to choose from in exercising creativity.
Dwelling on the benefits of Mobile in strengthening customer relationships, Marzin R Shroff, MD & CEO, Eureka Forbes, says, “Mobile is not just a device to our brand, it is our oxygen. We built our business through long-term relationships with our customers and with the use of Augmented-Reality (AR), our customers get updates about their purifiers on smartphones. Besides, it has also made our approach pro-active, which was earlier reactive. We now know exactly when our product needs servicing before our customers can call us. Mobi-vity is indeed the future of brand advertising.”



Mobile ad developers haven’t held back either and with newer innovations at their disposal, developers believe that Mobile advertising can go far beyond TV in influencing customers. Smartphone sensors have helped advertisers to go beyond the limits of TV advertising to amplify the user experience. Talking about the experiential power of Mobile, Lavin Punjabi, CEO and Co-Founder, mCanvas, says “The usual TV ads used to use videos to bring about emotions, but you can amplify those emotions on a Mobile because of the availability of sensors on a Mobile. You can make people twist and turn their phones in a certain way, you can make them shake their device, you can make them point in a certain direction and you can also make them draw shapes in the air with their phone. TV uses a visual aid as communication, but here it is a visual aid along with sensors which can enhance the user’s feeling. You can bring in a lot of innovation to the platform, and our business is focused precisely on that.”

For some advertisers, Mobile is an attraction as it allows the promotion of product categories that have restrictions on traditional media platforms. According to Ramin Saherwala, Media & Digital Lead, South Asia, GSK Consumer Healthcare, “Mobile has provided us the platform to promote our nutrition brands that have advertising restrictions on TV and other mass media. We are also able to convey our health messages with lighthearted humour and experiment not just with technology, but with our ideas too.”


Despite being in its early days, brands have a fair idea of what works on Mobile and what does not. While experimenting on Mobile will continue for years to come, there is a reward for brevity which advertisers believe should be inculcated in every Mobile strategy. On the need for keeping messages crisp and to the dot, Deepak Sharma, Chief Digital Officer, Kotak Mahindra Bank, says, “For banks, it is all about getting the right message across in the shortest time-frame. The consumer at the most gives us an 8-10 second mindshare of which we have to make optimum utilization. We use keywords like instant, 6% interest rate, etc., that have a high resonance with users of a financial service. Another advantage is the cost-effectiveness of the platform that grants the advertiser a longer rope to examine the effectiveness of a creative before its implementation.”


The latest growth numbers are a clear indicator of growing advertiser confidence in the Mobile medium, and creative agencies will only build on their Mobile-first campaign strategies in the coming days. Media experts have linked the progress in ‘Mobi-vity’ to the surge in smartphone penetration and fall in data prices. Commenting on the future of Mobile advertising, Uday Sodhi, EVP and Head, Digital Business, Sony Pictures Networks, says, “Unlike other mediums, users respond to communication on Mobile, making it a complete conversation. At Sony LIV, when we create content for the user, we do it with the strategy of getting a different response from different users, which in turn helps us to target better. With India crossing the 400 million mark in smartphone users, we will have a market that is double the size of the United States, which is an indicator of promising times for Mobile creativity.”

India is the second biggest smartphone market in the Asia Pacific region. By 2019, smartphone penetration is expected to reach 39%, driven by improvement in 4G networks, access to affordable 4G smartphones and Mobile Internet bundle prices. With Indians spending an average of 2.5 hours a day on their smartphones, Mobile advertising has been growing in leaps and bounds. Despite the advertising industry seeing a bit of a slowdown in 2017 due to the implementation of various Government policies, Mobile ad spends are still estimated to grow at a very healthy rate, though slightly lower than the 78% growth we had projected in the 2016 Mobile Ad Spends Report.

We consulted media buyers, advertisers, Mobile and Digital agencies to understand how ad spends have grown in 2017. According to our research, Mobile ad spends will grow at 74% to reach around Rs 2,230 crore in 2017. Ad spends on Mobile are expected to maintain a growth of rate of in excess of 65% into 2018 and we expect to see Mobile advertising spends to hover close to the Rs 4,000 crore mark by the end of 2018.

Though the growth picture is very rosy, there are still some hurdles along the way which the industry needs to address. Primary among these is the issue of attribution, which, despite efforts from the industry, still needs a definite resolution. the past five years. Assuming projected rates of growth and current estimates of ad spends on Mobile, OOH and Radio, we expect Mobile ad spends to be more than OOH and Radio ad spends combined by 2020, if not sooner.

Despite this, Mobile is still expected to constitute a relatively small portion of the overall advertising pie in the immediate future, with our estimate putting Mobile ad spends at nearly 32% of total Digital ad spends in 2017. Considering that Digital is expected to be around 15% of all ad spends in the country, this would mean Mobile ad spends answer for 3.8% of total ad spends currently.


According to media planners we spoke to, e-commerce, BFSI and FMCG continue to remain the biggest spenders on Mobile advertising. This is followed by sectors like Consumer Electronics, Telecom, Travel and Automobile. One trend that has emerged in 2017 is the rise of Performance Marketing with more performance-led campaigns this year.

Unlike most other mediums, the Mobile and Digital mediums have not suffered as much due to the implementation of policies like RERA, GST and demonetization, though there was sluggish spending post RERA by the real estate sector. “Any advertiser wants value, and also diversification. They do not want to be part of the clutter. Hence, pure CPM ads are seeing less traction. Advertisers want ease of buying, so programmatic advertising is picking up. Advertisers also want targeted ads and some measurement of ROI,” says Gautam Sinha, CEO of Times Internet.


Falling data costs and better and affordable smartphone penetration have fuelled video consumption on Mobile in 2017. This has led to a doubling of video ad spends as compared to 2016.

“Mobile banner ads were the norm until a few years ago. Till date they constitute a significant chunk of the ads we serve due to their scalability. Having said that, people have also realized that if you want to look at performance metrics such as LTV, return on ad spends and so on, then you need to deliver more engaging ad formats. So, the market is moving from simple banner ads to interstitial ads, to video ads and native ads,” says Vasuta Agarwal, VP & GM , India At InMobi.

Going forward, this format is expected to continue to be the fastest ad format on Digital. However, display still takes away the lion’s share of ad money in India currently. Other popular ad formats include social, native and SMS. Of these, native ads are also emerging as a strong favourite among advertisers and are expected to continue to evolve and grow into 2018.

Given questions about viewability and ad fraud, advertisers are also asking for more engaging ad formats, which has led to the development of newer formats built specifically for Mobile, for example, interscrollar ads that focus on engagement and lower intrusiveness and are increasing in popularity.


The launch of low cost data through Reliance Jio has had far reaching impacts in the Telecom, Media & Advertising industry. With an estimated 90% fall in data prices since the launch of Reliance Jio, it has had a tremendous influence on consumer behaviour. One direct result of this has been increasing consumption of video on mobile. “With the launch of Reliance Jio, the whole game has changed.

Increasingly, data costs have fallen and this has resulted in an explosion in data consumption. The Mary Meeker 2017 report says that from June 2016 to March 2017, there has been a 9x growth in millions of GB data consumed per month. As per the same report, this also reflects in consumption pattern of high bandwidth apps consumption,” says Raktim Borthakur, Media Director, VML India.


The issue of brand safety was raised during the early part of the year due to a number of incidents concerning Google, YouTube and Facebook. This has led to a more wary consumer who expects more transparency.

“The question of brand safety created a lot of awareness among advertisers and made them think beyond the Google and Facebook walled gardens. For the last few years, growth has mainly happened within Google and Facebook ecosystems but I foresee that this will change next year. People are now more understanding of the fact that there are other options,” says Lavin Punjabi, President & CEO, mCanvas. Another major hurdle is of attribution, especially between offline and online mediums, and though efforts are being made, the industry still needs a definite solution. This is further exacerbated due to lack of attribution transparency and differing measurement methodologies across platforms. However, the industry seems confident that 2018 will see progress in this space.


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