Srinivas Yelandur, Director & Digital Advisory Leader – Ernst & Young LLP, in an exclusive interview to Thinking Aloud, talks about the latest trends in mobile advertising.
TA: In order to be compatible with the new mobile reality, companies are making dual investments in both mobile apps and websites. Where is the major chunk of investment heading?
SY: Today’s companies need to ensure they are competitively ahead on all fronts. In the digital world, it is not sufficient to funnel investments in a single direction to harness a greater market share. Especially when consumers are highly invested in the brand and are engaging with businesses through mobile technologies, firms need to build a dichotomous digital strategy – one on the mobile front and the other on the web front. The investments for each must be balanced keeping in mind the ROI for each of these areas. However, what needs to viewed is how well the customer consumes content and interacts with the brand through these channels. Keeping mind the extreme and rapid mobilization of consumers and “on-the-go” culture it is prudent if in the short and medium term companies stay invested in the latest of mobile technologies to deliver compelling consumer experiences.
TA: Digital payment leaders are looking to spark results not with flint, but lightning bolts. Will it turn the mobile marketing arena into a spending race to serve the expectations of the mobile-first population?
SY: Payments have leap-frogged from the web world to the mobile world over the past few years. With the rapid development on both the mobile hardware and mobile apps for payments, it is become more relevant for such firms to create the right ecosystem to sustain the payments and transactions traffic for businesses. This can be achieved only with a focused marketing approach and by targeting customers to embrace m-commerce using mobile technologies like wallets, in-app payments, NFC and traditional payment technologies. In a way, this will spur companies to potentially create competition and increase spend on mobile marketing initiatives by targeting the mobile-first population, who are constantly pushing the envelope in adoption of digital technologies, changing the consumer economics and behaviour models.
TA: Several companies are trying to reinvent their organization around customers looking for bespoke mobile experiences. What’s your take on the same?
SY: As organizations constantly and consistently reinvent themselves, their strategy and focus more on bring the customer into the centre of their business universe, the customers on the other hand are constantly searching on newer ways of engaging and sustaining a closer intimacy, affinity with their brands through bespoke mobile experiences. Companies must be quick to understand their customer needs across social media, web and mobile worlds. If it needs increasing focus on bringing a differentiated or an integrated experience for customers, then companies must invest and innovate across the value chain of services being offered. A good example of this is customer care moving from the traditional offline or web and call centre model towards a social care or mobile care model. Customers do not want to be tethered to their offline world and are looking at ways to break from the shackles of the offline or web world. Organizations must be prepared to deliver customer care anytime, anywhere and anyplace – in a flavour of choice as demanded by the customer.
TA: Experts have predicted that ‘location’ is the new ‘cookie’. Should location-based methods go mainstream in the field of mobile marketing?
SY: Location! Location! Location! – Yes, the location cookie is definitely flying off the shelf. However, before companies look at geo-fencing the consumer in all his interactions using the mobile, they will have to walk the tight rope as to maintain a delicate balance between customer privacy and location technology going mainstream. It has to be seen how much of location data or intelligence can be harvested without the consumer’s consent. A healthy approach in the field of mobile marketing is to ensure that customers voluntarily provide information through either an option to opt-in or opt- out of such marketing programs. Of course, this is definitely a sharper and more accurate manner in delivering services and targeting the customer. But there have been many instances where the consumer is unaware of such covert intelligence or data gathering initiatives through location methods, which puts his privacy at great risk. In today’s age of cyber security and crime becoming increasingly prominent, the propensity of mobile marketing making use of location based technology is on the rise.
TA: Ad spends focused on mobile-specific ad formats are still very less. Should brands start breaking desktop shackles & focus more on mobile marketing? Will 2016 be the year of mobile marketing?
SY: The Ad spends on mobile specific formats will change over a period of time. Mobile channels have changed marketing forever. Traditional audiences and sales channels are fragmented, the internet has empowered customers with information and unprecedented access, and big data and advanced analytics have become central to decoding customer behaviour and future trends. Trust in a company and brand is no longer dependant on company-controlled, traditional, mass channels, but rather on communities and peers through social media and other digital channels. This indicates that businesses will have to allocate significant percentages of their marketing budget to Ad spends in order to successfully reach and market to these customers. As integrated campaigns become more popular, being able to correctly attribute leads, conversions and returns to channels, campaigns and devices will determine how budgets are allocated going forward. 2016 will be the tipping point for mobile marketing but it will take a while to reach its peak.