(This piece was first contributed by Dippak Khurana, Founder and CEO, Vserv.mobi to Indiadigitalreview)
With device proliferation and explosion in application development and usage, 2011 saw the mobile medium becoming more favourable to advertising ecosystem at large. As we are on the cusp of 2012, here are some of Vserv’s top line views on how the new year will shape up for mobile advertising as an industry and the trends that will take centre stage.
1. Only smart phones will browse?… Wrong. All phones will browse!
The Indian telecom sector is among the fastest growing global markets and has also witnessed an explosion with respect to the launch of innovative cost effective feature phones. Hitherto, Internet browsing was the most basic characteristic available on such devices, but going forward we will see feature phones becoming even smarter. For instance, many handset manufacturers are launching devices directed at mass audiences in emerging markets who can avail of many more entertainment options than just accessing the web. These handset manufacturers are also expected to bundle popular applications such as Foursquare, WhatsApp, Angry birds, Flickr, Orkut and RenRen into these phones; which was until now the prerogative of smart phone users solely. The ‘Asha’ range of S40 feature phones by Nokia which is to be released by January 2012, and new launches by Spice are some examples of this trend. Internet-enabled, dual sim phones which according to IDC currently hold 30% of the market, are also witnessing an uptick in the market. Hence, the potential for mobile advertising in both feature as well as smart phones will continue to rise.
2. Mobile internet users will be twice of PC internet users by the end of 2012
Vodafone India which currently enjoys a market share of close to 19%, released a report in September 2011 stating the telco’s current data customer base at about 27.5 million; up 142% year on year. Extrapolating from this figure, we can estimate the total mobile internet user base at currently close to 100 million. Given this explosive growth rate, the number of mobile internet users is expected to be twice as that of PC internet user by end of 2012. Mobiles devices will dominate the future of internet and data services because accessing it through the mobile form factor is more convenient, as compared to PCs. This is a key trend in India and other emerging markets and it will also be instrumental in attracting advertisers to start opening their purse strings towards high impact mobile advertising.
3. Embracing advertising across all mobile devices – feature phones, smart phones and tablets
When advertisers look to advertise in mobile devices, they consider three major factors:
1. Extensive reach for mainstream brands
2. Engagement for specially created brand specific applications
3. Targeting high net worth individuals for brands catering to such audiences
Each of these above mentioned scenarios is facilitated by a different type of mobile device. While the reach is provided by feature phones, there is higher engagement through tablets while HNIs can be targeted through smart phones. The point to note therefore is that we will see that advertisers start considering all these three devices types while charting out mobile advertising strategies because of the specificity that each of them lends. Given the explosive growth rate of mobile internet usage, there is a massive potential for advertisers to include the mobile medium as part of their marketing mix to achieve targeted and impactful campaigns.
4. Ad funded Mobile TV apps will gain traction
Early 2011 ushered a new era in the telecom history of India with the 3G rollout in India. Correspondingly, this brought about a new mobile consumption pattern amongst users with faster internet browsing, greater use of mobile applications and downloads, video streaming etc. One such beneficiary of the 3G rollout in 2012 is expected to be mobile TV applications which are currently at a nascent stage of usage. The heightened demand of these Mobile TV apps will attract advertisers to this innovative medium. The way I envisage this model to evolve is that mobile TV applications as a medium will emerge as a good platform for advertising; resulting in a free usage model for viewers.
5. The rise and rise of the ‘Inde-developer’
Over the last couple of years, there were few independent Indian developers who focused on their skill-sets and transformed into successful companies gaining traction with downloads generated from global app stores. A case in point being Twist Mobile, an independent developer became the first developer from South East Asia to get 15 million downloads on Ovi globally. In the interest of ecosystem building, companies such as Blackberry, Nokia etc. started conducting evangelist programs whereby they organised for such home-grown developer companies to meet with budding developers from Indian colleges to encourage them to join this burgeoning field of application/game development. This is creating a movement called the ‘Inde-developer’ (independent developer) which is differing from the traditional model restricted to companies (and not independent individuals) in the field of application/game development. What is positively fuelling this trend is a thriving downloads market globally. Therefore, we believe that 2012 will mark the steady rise of independent developers which will augur well for the mobile industry ecosystem per se.