"Mobile marketing is focused marketing not spamming"

by Sharon Lobo    Jul 10, 2012

Today, a majority of people are personally attached to their mobile devices and are connected around the clock. It is no wonder, that marketers see a huge opportunity in mobile marketing to reach out to new customers. In an exclusive interview to CXOtoday, Alex Moukas, CEO, Velti, explains how marketers can engage with and reach their consumers through innovative mobile marketing and advertising efforts. Excerpts.

Alex Moukas Velti

Recent industry reports suggest that in India, consumers spend around 10% of the time on mobile phone, while the marketers are spending only 1% of their marketing budget on mobile. How do you think this divide can be bridged? What will be the key drivers for this change?
As you correctly pointed, there is indeed a huge gap between the time people spend on their mobile devices including tablets and the marketing spend on mobile. Eight to nine years ago we saw a similar trend in the online space, however today people spend about 25% of their time online and the online marketing spend has risen to 22%. We feel the same trend will be duplicated in the mobile space as well.

I think we are very close to the inflection point as marketers realise how they can use mobile in a way which also make sense to the consumers as well. Initially, marketers had the tendency to replicate the online model into mobile by using display ads and push SMS. A similar trend was seen when, marketers moved from print to online. I still remember back in 1994 people uploaded scanned brochures on the Internet and declared they were online!

However, mobile marketing is much more, it is the ability for the consumer to pull information and for the marketers to use mobile to build a long lasting relationship with the consumers. It will take time for the transition to happen.

Indian mobile carriers are under tremendous pressure to increase their ARPU. How do you think they can leverage mobile marketing platforms to achieve this goal?
Historically, services of print, broadcast or online mediums have been heavily subsidised by advertising and marketing actions. However, mobile is the only medium where this trend is unheard of yet. Although I believe huge investments will eventually be made in mobile space, which can subsidise user experience whether it’s in the form of airtime or other marketing engagements.

Mobile carriers can leverage mobile marketing platforms such as ours by running loyalty programs, and making consumers spend slightly more money by offering something they would appreciate. Also instead of to self-select themselves to participate in campaigns where they see value.

Mobile marketing is not about spamming to a huge lot of people instead it is a focused marketing, which can be measured.

How can other verticals use mobile marketing to achieve their marketing objectives? Which industries are the biggest spenders in this space?
Other verticals use similar platforms as the ones used by carriers. The only thing that differentiates carriers is that they have the medium, though we still view them as any other vertical. Finance, retail, and pharmaceuticals are some verticals that are a seriously looking at mobile marketing. For instance, retail companies are using mobile marketing to encourage consumers using low margin goods and services to higher margin ones.

On the user front, how similar or different is the Indian market when compared to other global markets? And how do you address such a market?
There are both. For instance, there are a lot of similar trends when it comes to the usage of smartphones versus feature phones. However, in terms of consumer interaction models they are very different. For example, in the US you would look at doing a campaign for smartphone users, while in India you would target feature phone users. However, at the same time there is a sizeable number of Indian smartphone users, which cannot be ignored. Also, the pattern of user interaction differs at different times of the day. Like during commute hours there is a lot of messaging activity, and at other times of the day there is a high usage of smartphone features such as apps, videos etc. As a result the marketing campaign also needs to adapt accordingly.

Velti believes in integrating traditional ways of marketing with mobile. How much of a challenge does it pose?
Traditional media spending is probably more than 100 times that of mobile, so we continuously work with advertising agencies to ensure mobile marketing complements the traditional marketing. For instance, if you click on an ad on the pc you will go to the online platform, if you click the same ad on a tablet or a mobile you come to our platform.

Yes, there are challenges to fully integrate mobile with traditional marketing. There has to be changes in corporate processes and human behaviour. Also, as the mobile business is evolving so fast, it is very hard to predict the future.

What will be your go to market strategy for India?
We are looking at verticals which have a very high lifecycle value or where we have high customer acquisition cost, very high customer value. Now this is possible in verticals such as finance, car manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and retail. In a retail setting, if you consider pregnant women they have 12 times the spending capacity than a regular consumer. Why? Because once they deliver, you know exactly what their buying pattern will be for the next ten years.

We know marketers will spend 20% of their budget on mobile 10 years from now. However, for us it is important we tap people the right people who are the early adopters of such technologies. We identify potential business not by the verticals but by CMOs who include mobile in their marketing strategies regardless of the vertical.