Mobile Advertising & VAS in India

Yesterday, I attended the Mobile Advertising and VAS Conference – Mobile Conclave 2010 at Amity University, NOIDA. Thank you, Vishal, for inviting me over.

The conference was an outliner to where we as consumers stand for the VAS players and telecos. India has always had high usage trends when it comes to infotainment on a media. Be it television, the internet or mobile. Inherently, VAS services like games, jokes, astrology, flowers on demand, etc. have been there since the inception of VAS in India.

But that by no means Indicate that we as Indians are satisfied by the operators or the VAS services, for that matter. There is a huge different between a commodity being an accessory and that being a necessity.  How many services actually target the later?

Checking PNR status is one good service I would say. There might be a handful of others. But do we ever see a – doctor on call, lawyer on call or a mentor on call service? I would want a provider to incorporate these. Is there a VAS player who would possible build a service which can lead me to the closest physician while I am travelling in an area that’s 1000 miles from my residence, without having an access to the internet? This is a need, not an accessory.

At the conferences, there were talks on social networks being accessed over mobiles and then facebook adding 45million people to their mobile users within first 8 months of the launch. How many Indians are willing to afford a Rs 500 worth of an EDGE data plan on their carrier beyond the usual monthly rental and that of the resident internet connection, say broadband. How many Indians do have a phone that has a WiFi? Leave all that, India still has just over 8% of broadband penetration. Still the users of Orkut, Facebook and Twitter are very high in India as compared to rest of the world. That doesn’t mean we, the Indians are heavy users of social networks on mobile.

If this small a market is good enough to advertise and get a good ROI, I would love to be directed to a few case studies on mobile internet based marketing case studies in India.

I liked the thoughts of Milind Pathak, Vice President, Comviva. Crystal gazing through the year 2010, he said, “Netting the un-netted is a big area which shall need to be looked upon. Also, there exists a payments asymmetry in mobile commerce in India.” According to him, there is still a wait for 12-18 months to see 3G as a service which we as a consumer can benefit with.

While all of us are eager for the spectrum to roll out and 3G to arrive, using mobiles for many is still limited to voice and sms. SMSgupshup comes in handy as an API to use and build products around social networks. SMSTweet is one good example.

Looking forward to the year 2010, as in what we get to see and how accurate is the crystal gazing we did yesterday at the conclave.




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