Ritu Midha: The second screen… or is it the first?

20 Jun,2013

By Ritu Midha


Three screens – television, computer and mobile put together devour Indian urban populace’s maximum waking hours. And, then of course, there are tablets and cinema screens.


Television, of course, continues to create maximum engagement – and hence the centrepiece of most marketing strategies. In spite of its measurement currency being marred in controversy at the moment – it would continue to be the key medium to reach us.


Computer as a medium of advertising communication is on the upswing – innovations, interactivity and measurement system all working for it. To add to it, there are learnings from other markets.


Interestingly, it is the third screen – mobile – that is not delivering on the expectations it has raised as far marketing is concerned. Mobile, in my view, is the first or the second screen for many of us – I would define this target group as SEC A B, male skewed, 18+ populace, studying or working. Though they spend considerable time in front of a computer, they are not really glued to it when out of home, and are hardly home.


One has been hearing for more than half a decade that mobile would change how the brands engage with consumers. And how mobile marketing would be the ‘in’ thing shortly. However, one daresay there is not much evolution in mobile marketing. Leave aside marketing, it has not even emerged as a powerful advertising medium.


It is still ‘good morning, I am calling from xyz and your number has been selected for XYZ’. And 99 percent of the time the cold call gets a cold shoulder. In the best of scenarios, mobile advertising is a clone job of television and computer advertising.


And this despite mobile consumption increasing by the day. As per TRAI data for February 2013, there are 861.66 million mobile connections. Add to it the numbers thrown by Nokia Siemens Networks’ MBit Index study, and the picture becomes all the more interesting.mobile data traffic generated by 3G services increased by 196 percent between December 2011 and December 2012, while mobile data traffic generated by 2G services increased by 66 percent over the same period.


On to the smartphone users. As per the recent ‘2013 Internet trends’ report by Mary Meeker, partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), India ranks the fifth with 67 million subscribers. The four above it are China, the US, Japan and Brazil. However, when it comes to smartphone penetration it is just 6 percent, pushing it to number 30. Whatever be the case 67million is not a small number – specially if you take into consideration 52 per cent yoy growth rate.


Despite the staggering numbers mobile fails to be a unique medium – and can be personalized like none other. Do we believe mobile, after all, is not the right marketing medium? Has it got something to do with the screen size, or lack of efficiencies with the agencies and marketers alike? Or, are we reluctant to experiment?


One of the youngest countries in the world, with more mobile phones than television sets, can definitely do better than agar aapka answer A hae to ekka button dabaen – though one must admit that media owners are doing a far better job of using mobile as the medium of engaging people than others including FMCG behemoths and telecom operators themselves.


Ritu Midha is a senior journalist and web strategist based in Mumbai. She is also Consulting Editor and Editor – Special Projects, MxMIndia.


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