Q.1: What are your estimates on the growth of mobile advertising in India. With TRAI becoming more serious about unsolicited commercial calls, will the advertising take a beating?
Ans: India is like a gold mine for the mobile advertisers. Here in India, with a population of 1.18 billion and with the number of people using mobile phone burgeoning with a mark of 752 million and still adding we need not say any more. Now that the people are going for mobile internet rather broadband, mobile advertising has a lot of space to put its foot forward. India to be the second country after China to have the maximum number of mobile phone users, promises a safe haven for mobile advertisers to play their cards. It’s needless to say when the big players of the telecom industry like Google and Apple jumped on the bandwagon and were busy buying themselves Quattro Wireless and AdMob respectively the business of mobile advertising had nothing more to boast about. It is the era of APP-VERTISING.
Although mobile advertising is only aiming the stars when it comes to excelling but in this haste of making the big mark out there in the market they have also led to something called as Unsolicited Commercial Calls (UCC). This has led TRAI to set up a Customer Preference Registration Facility which allows the user to either register or deregister from receiving these calls. Further steps have also been taken to curb this menace of UCC like assigning a distinct number to the tele caller and a time duration of 12 hours between 9am to 9pm only etc.
Mobiesta -your mobile fun guide’ provides a breakthrough to the advertisers. It is going to be a dream come true for the advertiser that such a leverage is being provided they can actually judge what an individual demands out of the advertiser. This makes it further easier for them to crack out strategies which can hit the bull’s eye.
This has resulted into a stagnant situation of the advertiser where they do not reach the desired number of users which ultimately leaves them unaware of the demands and requirements of the consumer. But the business world has always opted for a -Never say die attitude’ and so they will find the best way out to cope up with this situation.
Q.2: What are your guidance to operators and advertisers?
Due to a bigger chunk of the market share dominated by the mobile network operator the aggregator and the developer are left with a meager margin which restricts them from innovation. We expect support and co-operation from the service operators for the progress of the VAS ecosystem.
The advertisers and advertising agencies should see Mobile as -the fourth screen of Media’ and applications such as Mobiesta as the channel to reach out to their target consumers. The understanding of Mobile having the maximum penetration among all other media has to be realized and utilized.
Q.3: What are the demands of your customers?
Ans: Our consumers need to plan their time and have them properly pinned down and organized. All this requires an application which can instantaneously let them know what is happening where, when and how can they reach the event. Their needs don’t have an end here itself. All the information that they want should be dynamic and filtered that is available on the move. Our consumers want to immediately call on the details given for a particular venue for confirmations and simultaneously share their plans with their friends as well. The very need of there is well recognized and resolved. Then they want themselves to go easy on their pocket and want all of it free. And so do we give them, absolutely free. Our application costs nothing and can be downloaded for free.
The people on the move as well don’t want their schedule to go awry when they land in another city and hence Mobiesta is serving them in 5 metro cities (Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, and Bangalore) and continues to expand its horizon across the country. Apart from being not only your fun guide Mobiesta also cares for you if you happen to land in some emergencies. Mobiesta provides you with all the possible emergency contact numbers of the city.
The increasing affinity towards lifestyle application which relieves the user of breaking his heads over event schedules, newspaper or city guides made us to start this drive called Mobiesta and it still continues to feed their appetite of being organized and updated. And we still don’t stop here as we have m-coupons, payment gateway to offer to our users. This is the current demand of our consumers that is being well served.
Mobiesta doesn’t stop here itself. It has geared up for its bright future as well. After all this if the users still seek for a second opinion on the events listed, we’ll soon provide them with user reviews and ratings as well. Later we’ll also equip them with feature to find out direction to the concerned venue and GPS.
Now that 3G is all served right to the users they expect high speed internet. The next appetite is for the local content that the users crave for. Be it the mobile application, mobile website or the constantly ticking advertisements. This not only gives them a familiarity with the content but also increases the chances of impact that the content creates. Rather than anything else they want applications on their mobile phones that too which serve their demand of movies and content. With the added pleasure that every month 4-5 million new subscribers are adding in the user base we insist on reaching them with our application.
Not ignoring the great interest of the users towards the video viewing and downloading over the mobile, Mobiesta also plans on how to create a perfect milieu which is mutually beneficial for the three players of the game i.e. the consumer, the advertiser and us.
Q.4: Local content is not growing even in the wake of 3G launches. What are the solutions?
Ans: Content syndication with web portals and maps solves this problem to a very minute extent but it does not fulfill the requirement of the user. For example, there are Applications that would tell where is Hard Rock CafÃ© but it would not tell which band is playing over there and at what time. Mobiesta functions through a large pool of content aggregators and advertisers that provide them with local content. We provide local information to an extent that includes Street Food and cultural festivals at various lacales.
Q.5: Is India’s VAS eco system strong enough to compete with big operators?
Ans: The decreasing call charges in India have further decreased the Average Revenue Per User. Which is an obvious indication that mobile can no longer be treated as just a communication tool to earn revenue. The need of mining out a separate channel for earning revenue led to the invention of VAS. The VAS ecosystem chain in India is a complex ecosystem but yet it is undefined in various manners. The entities in the VAS ecosystem perform more than one function and are focusing how to expand further. Thus we can say that the Indian VAS ecosystem is still in the nascent stage. But the big operators in India like Airtel, Reliance, Vodafone etc have left no stone unturned in utilizing the cash cow named VAS.
However if we look down the road we will see that VAS has undergone a lot of structural changes, consolidation and a lot of cutting edge services. There have been various shifts in the VAS business. The major one being the shift from entertainment and music to user generated and mCommerce. Users today opt VAS as the criteria for their selection of operators. Regional content getting more popularity and increasing feasibility of mobile applications are amongst the major factors as well.
Q. 6: How can VAS players become more competitive?
Ans: The VAS players have dealt several cards in order to prove their dominance. The most noticeable ones being the various platforms for the VAS delivery and venturing into several genres of VAS like entertainment, info and mCommerce VAS. But they need to cope up with the challenges that specially the Indian market poses for them. They need to overcome these hurdles in order to become the mentor of VAS business in India. The first and the foremost is the requirement of changing the focus from youth to other demographic profile of consumers. They need to establish facilities for niche market which shall create real value for subscribers.
Further on comes the development of the new high end VAS which enable the users to experience a whole new set of services like Video sharing, location based services. But that has to wait until the introduction of new technologies like 3G. Next is to deal with the high costs of the VAS which is mainly due to the major focus on the entertainment based VAS which the user perceives to be costly but this perception will not sustain and ultimately they will decline themselves from availing the MNP.
Next step requires an initiative at the ends, the developer and the operator. They should adopt a more transparent way of revenue sharing which brings an ease in the tension that has built amongst the operators and the developers in the matters of revenue sharing. Even the other entities in between this chain should contribute towards this initiative. Currently the blame is put on the operators that they eat up the larger chunk of the revenue earned.
These early initiatives will definitely lead to a healthy progress of the VAS industry and also give way to further developments that are necessary for this industry to boom.
Q.7: What are the new trends in the market?
Ans: Rich media advertising that offers more in application interactivity via video, sound, gamin etc. The rich media advertising makes the advertisements more attractive and engaging. The user can virtually experience the ads and hence is able to give a more valuable feedback to the advertisers.
Another trend to be seen in the near future is the foremost importance given to the location. The location based applications are on their full swing and every body is eager to see how this location positioning can be utilized for advertising. Specially the regional ads which can be triggered on the person’s mobile. Many consumers are availing the location based applications on their mobile phones. It gives them freedom to measure the target audience on the basis of their geography, behavior and time frame, that too quite easily.
At last the most talked about trend is the video fad that has caught up with the internet users that is most likely to be enthusiastically adopted by the mobile users. Mobiesta is working on Video Advertising to be implemented with the acceptance of 3G in India. Although mobile video is not of that much importance to the mobile advertisers but their promising potential advocates a strong foothold for earning revenue.
Q.8: What are your expansion plans?
Ans: Never tired and always ready to explore the new galore of possibilities Mobiesta maintains the same attitude when it comes to business. We have an entire horizon to be touched and we have made all our plans. Currently operating as a mobile lifestyle application we are trying our level best to cater to every need that a probable user would expect us to have. On the future track we pave our way to set up strong alliances with Nokia, Blackberry, Android, Airtel and Samsung for portability across all the platforms. We have started including m-coupons and payment gateways where transactions could be directly made. We intend to include features like getting directions, reviews, ratings of all the events listed. In the later stage we’ll also bring GPS to our application.
As the video viewing and downloading is catching the fever we are also looking ways of integrating video advertisements and descriptions for the advertisers. We also look forward in making strategic alliances with the IPTV manufacturers. All along the set goals we so aim to showcase ourselves as other lifestyle application like gaming guide and business guide.