Market Spotlight — Mastering Mobile Advertising: The Rise Of India’s Mobile Economy

By Aqilliz  

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Mobile economy in india

Throughout the past few years, renewed attention has been cast towards emerging economies and the staggering rise of their respective mobile economies, perhaps even more so amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The ever-increasing emphasis on the need for stable, robust technological infrastructure to support relationships, businesses, and healthcare solutions alike simply can’t be overstated. Within the Asia Pacific, GSMA estimates that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will subscribe to mobile services, representing 62 percent of the region’s population. Most notably, India will account for over half of these new subscribers.

Home to 1.38 billion people as the second-most populous country in the world, digitalisation has accelerated across India over the course of the past year, driven by its rural population which saw 299 million new internet users. Enabled by the increasing affordability of mobile devices and cheaper data plans, mobile has become the medium of choice for getting online across both urban and rural communities. As marketers in the country navigate the mobile playing field, what do they need to keep in mind?

V is for video

According to an InMobi report, the growth of smartphone penetration in the country has catalysed a 194 percent growth in mobile video advertisements. Compared with other formats, InMobi also found that mobile video ads saw a comparatively greater click-through rate at 112 percent. With this in mind, managing a mobile advertising campaign well is critical. A clearly defined strategy, addressing everything from the length of the video, its frequency across different channels and formats, to design and orientation will be key. For one, consider that the click-through rates for vertical video ads were 4x higher than other formats.

Another consideration to keep in mind is where your ads should be placed. Consider Pernod Ricard liquor brand Seagram’s Royal Stag — India’s leading brand of whisky and Pernod Ricard’s best-selling brand by volume — and its recent in-app mobile advertising campaign. Targeting digitally-savvy consumers and millennials, Royal Stag leveraged the knowledge that 45 percent of local smartphone users are casual gamers, hence placing the ad across some of the country’s top-ranking casual gaming apps. With a strong understanding of shifting consumer habits and its target audience, Royal Stage’s mobile video ad campaign generated 4 million completed video views within a month’s time.

Evolving in line with privacy requirements

When Apple implemented its App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy in April of this year, app developers and marketers alike were up in arms. Users would now be prompted to opt-in to their data being collected and activities across applications being tracked. Though not done clandestinely, for the first time, users would have the choice and most importantly, the right, to explicitly decide how their data and their activities were being monitored as they traversed mobile applications. The impact of the ATT can’t be overstated, with all major social media platforms including Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube losing a combined revenue of approximately US$9.85 billion this year.

In India, marketers have comparatively not been hit as hard. Domestically, the Android operating system continues to dominate with an over 95 percent market share. According to Remerge, India continues to see 78 percent of bid requests focused on ID-based traffic, pointing to the fact that marketers haven’t fully focused their efforts on adapting to ATT’s new requirements. That being said, marketers shouldn’t be short-sighted — the consensus on privacy-centric audience targeting is growing, and this will be crucial for local Indian brands looking to appeal to international audiences. Rather than viewing the growing emphasis on privacy as a risk, local marketers should see this as an opportunity to pre-emptively future-proof their tech stacks, in a bid to enable the ethical use of consumer data which is certain to do wonders for building long-term brand trust.

Fighting fraud

As marketers continue to strive for automation and efficiency, ad fraud remains a cause for concern. We’ve seen this in programmatic display and the same can be said for programmatic mobile ads where bad actors can easily exploit the large swathes of time spent by users engaging with casual gaming apps and social platforms for prolonged periods of time. Thankfully, India’s mobile campaigns are showing promising signs compared to their display counterparts — in H1 2021, mobile web display brand risk fell to 1.8 percent, significantly less than the global average of 2.6 percent. Sure enough, Opticks found that despite the fact that Asia Pacific is home to the highest concentrations of ad fraud in the world, India didn’t make it on the list of top ten markets exposed to ad fraud.

With non-compliant traffic and malicious bots forming the majority of incidents of mobile ad fraud in the country, it’s crucial that marketers invest in the right tools to mitigate the risk of fraud across the campaign supply chain. Introducing emerging technologies such as blockchain to tackle the fraud problem within an increasingly automated environment will be critical. With smart contracts — self-executing agreements that only trigger an action if pre-agreed upon conditions are met — brands can be assured that only impressions that have been served in brand-safe, verifiably viewable environments are being paid for.

Digitally driven, mobile motivated

It’s certainly an exciting time for marketers in India’s vibrant mobile media ecosystem. As rates of digitalisation continue to climb, so will the opportunities that lay on the horizon. As they look ahead, brands and marketers alike need to remember that the digital playground is hardly a matter of geographical boundaries — within a borderless virtual landscape, all is fair game, and understanding their customers, respecting their rights, and delivering effective campaigns in brand-safe environments will ultimately be critical to success.

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