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In-depth: Mobile marketing to command over 70% of total digital adex as brands increase focus on precision targeting

Mobile has become the first port of calling for brands running digital ad campaigns. The medium is likely to strengthen its share as brands aim to gain more from optimising their strategy

According a recent MMA and WARC report, 75% marketers are expecting an increase in mobile budgets in 2021, led by social media and innovative m-commerce technology. 

With spends growing in digital marketing overall, mobile marketing has been growing too to become a key component of the digital ecosystem. But how is it benefitting the brands in the longer term?

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Manan Shah

Manan Shah, Director of Marketing at Truecaller India, said the brand has almost tripled its spends on digital in the last two years and mobile marketing accounts for about one-third of it. It primarily uses this media for brand awareness, relevance and for addressing unexplored audiences.

“We plan to keep investing in this platform consistently over the next few years. At the current estimate, I see our spends increasing by almost 15-20% annually with larger budgets allocated to innovation and performance in India and SEA. I can foresee a huge surge in spends from e-commerce, smartphone brands and even new-age FMCG brands,” he said.

India is fast becoming a mobile-first consumer economy with an estimated 734 million users at the beginning of 2021, due to the tremendous digital acceleration by the pandemic. 

Vasuta Agarwal

As marketers across India go back to the drawing board, Vasuta Agarwal, SVP, Managing Director for Asia Pacific at InMobi, said that one truth has emerged: mobile is the anchor for both consumers and brands in this sea of unknown.

According to industry estimates, 60% of the digital advertising budget is now spent on mobile and this proportion is likely to rise to about 70% by 2022 given the current scenario, she said.

Preetam Thingalaya

Preetam Thingalaya, Director of Media at Mirum, said that fundamentally, India moved into platform-agnostic digital planning a while back. Earlier for desktop + mobile, today brands plan for all platforms, and while platforms are heavily skewed towards mobile because of the usage.

“80% to 90% of the digital inventory today is on mobile. We have also observed that there has been a significant increase in media investments on mobile ad tech partners. Partners such as Inshorts, MCanvas and Glance are playing a major role in using the mobile device inventory in their own unique way. And this is truly growing. Add to this marketing automation, which is also growing in parallel. If I have to put a number to it, I will fairly park 15-20% of any standard media plan,” he said.

The average usage of smartphones by Indians is estimated to have gone up by approximately 25% to almost seven hours a day as people depend on them for work, study from home and entertainment amid the pandemic.

Bhavesh Talreja

Bhavesh Talreja, CEO, Globale Media, believes that in today’s competitive world, mobile marketing allows brands to reach the target audience quickly and effectively irrespective of the industry.

“This year, we have noticed our clients spending 3x-4x on mobile marketing across all categories such as short video apps, fintech, OTT, e-commerce, and more,” he said.

But how exactly is mobile marketing helping brands in precise targeting? While a few brands are increasing their efforts on this part, is this even converting to greater ROI?

With this shift in focus on mobile, Agarwal said that one of the most noticeable changes is that mobile is both a branding and performance vehicle for marketers to influence, engage, and convert customers across the funnel. And when it comes to precision targeting, the biggest promise that mobile delivers on is personalisation at scale.

Recently, Godrej consumer products leveraged the InMobi programmatic platforms to deliver personalised video communications at scale for its household insecticide category, which not only led to strong brand uplift (22% better ad recall) but also a significant growth in the category revenue (15% in the fiscal year where personalised video was a significant part of the media mix).

Going forward, she said while digital-first companies such as hyperlocal, e-commerce, edtech, etc., will continue to drive growth using mobile; marketers across CPG, retail, automotive, and consumer durables will invest in building mobile marketing maturity and maximising impact.

Digital in general is great for mass reach, but with mobile, brands get the opportunity to do some amount of targeting, Shah said. Its own advertising inventory offers custom audiences, day part targeting, and some very innovative solutions to help brands reach the kind of target audience they seek.

For example, if a smartphone brand wants to reach out to an audience that is likely to upgrade their phones in the near future, Truecaller is able to help them target exactly that user base with video and vernacular messaging tuned to their audience’s preferences. It uses such solutions on its own app and other platforms to generate great ROI, whether it is branding or performance as an objective.

The foundation of mobile marketing targeting is the device itself, the rest all are just filters or parameters one has to add to segregate the TG or audiences. Thingalaya said that it is in a true sense the “precise targeting mechanism”.

“Today we are able to track an online ad exposure to a store walk-in, all just through the adtech partners available to us marketers. For every brand, category or sector, ROIs are always different. Many focus on reach and engagement and others focus on conversion and after-sale retention. And all these expectations are pretty achievable if the planning is right,” he said.

Globale Media platform is driven by AI-based algorithms and its app recommendation engines work to target the right user at the right time, driving higher ROI for app marketers. It targets the users based on their interests and preferences; and pursues them using AI-driven remarketing tools until the desired action is made from their side.

For precise targeting, Talreja said its algorithms target the users during a specific day or time, taking into account advanced targeting criteria such as gender, geo, location, etc.

It has a proprietary demand side platform with the help of which its clients can directly control the targeting settings based on demographic, geographic and behavioural preferences.

“There’s no doubt about it that mobile marketing is pretty darn impactful. It allows advertisers to show ads to a perfectly primed audience. For instance, if we have helped an e-commerce player to acquire a new user, and that user adds an item to the cart, we retarget the same user with various kinds of deals for that specific item, enticing the user to make a purchase. Ultimately, this leads to higher conversions, higher ROI, and effectively lower cost per user acquisition for the app marketers. On an average, retargeting ads are 76% more likely to be clicked on than a regular ad,” he said.

Taranjeet Singh

Taranjeet Singh, Managing Director, SEA and India, Criteo, mobile marketing enables wider reach and it is increasingly driving conversions. With an efficient mobile marketing solution, highly personalised ads are shown to a user when they are most likely to be interested in it and most likely to purchase the products, the spokesperson said. “Ads are seamlessly connected with every shopper across devices as well as apps and sophisticated machine-learning technology can continuously improve the campaign’s performance. For instance, Tata CLiQ achieved a steady increase in average revenue per user (ARPU) by leveraging its in-app retargeting solution Criteo Dynamic. It also allowed the e-com platform to deliver the right ad at the right moment in the shopper journey, so that customers would be encouraged to complete the shopper journey within the app, rather than just browse and leave to purchase a similar product from a competitor.”

Experts foresee digital ad investments to keep growing and knowingly or unknowingly, digital media will always be mobile-driven.

As time progresses, Thingalaya said the industry will see old and newer brands adapting mobile marketing as a standard norm because of the scope and the level of targeting parameters it has to offer.

“These will always be the usual suspects. FMCG will always be on top, backed by BFSI and OTT entertainment and sports. We will also see CPL and cost per transaction performance-based planning models in play too,” he said.

However, Talreja doesn’t agree that even the current stage brands are shying away from betting on mobile marketing. While there is no fixed amount to what marketers around the world are willing to spend on their marketing strategy for mobile, one undeniable fact is that there has been a consistent growth in mobile marketing spend.

“Due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, most companies are re-strategising their marketing mix. As traditional media was severely impacted due to the aftermath of Covid, brands are now opting for the digital route, specifically targeting their consumers through the handsets. It was estimated early this year that 45-55% of the digital advertising budget is spent on mobile advertising and this share is likely to increase to around 65-70% by 2022,” he said.

Apart from this, over the last year, Indian short-video apps have been pumping millions of dollars into mobile marketing, owing to the huge rounds of investments that they have raised.

Moving forward, he foresees fintech companies ruling the roost.

While no marketer should shy away from mobile marketing, there are instances of ad fraud and a bit of lack of transparency that probably makes them think twice about spending on this media.

Shah said there is also scarcity or rather hesitation in terms of experimentation and innovation and blames marketers for it.

“Lots of platforms offer amazing solutions that can make their brand stand apart but most often than not, I have seen marketers resort to plain old display and interstitial advertising on mobile. There is so much more that this medium offers and platforms like ours are always willing to take a leap of faith with brands that want to experiment,” he said.

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