Is the mobile device the “third screen” – or the first?


I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret that several friends have recently shared with me:When they get up in the morning, they don’t see their wives’ faces first. They see their mobile screens. That’s the first thing they see. And you know what? Their wives don’t seem to mind. They are doing the same thing.

A little exercise for you

That in mind, here’s a little exercise for you to do: during the past four hours, which of the following screens did you look at the most number of times? Your mobile? Your PC/Mac? Or, your TV?

If you’re like most people, it is now the little device in your hand.

Why? Mobile devices now do all the core things personal computers can do – surf the Web, run applications, play video, send and receive email – in an increasingly cost-friendly, ultra-portable package. It is small enough to go everywhere with you, yet now powerful enough to do it all. For marketers, this means, of all channels mobile advertising is least likely to go unnoticed. Simply because these are devices that are, in essence, always “on,” always carried around, and have rapidly come to be considered essential to our daily lives.

To the point that, a recent Yahoo! study found, even as we are watching television, the vast majority of us still have our mobile devices with us and probably engage with it at least once or twice.

The explosion of mobile: some stats

90% of the world now lives in a location with mobile access.

5.3 Billion – That was the number of people on Planet Earth with mobile devices at the beginning of 2010, which represents 68% of the world's population. (US, China and India account for 293m, 747m and 525m mobile subscribers respectively.)

6.4 Billion – That is how many worldwide mobile subscribers there are expected to be by 2014, a growth fuelled by a 76% increase in China and a 62% increase in India.

There are 500 million mobile web users worldwide – on the way to a likely 1 billion by 2014.

In Q4 2010, the sales of smart phones surpassed the sale of PCs around the globe – more than 100 million units! By the end of 2011, there will be 120 million smart phone subscribers in the United States alone, which would, at that point, be more subscribers than pay for cable TV. (Sources: ABI Research, CTIA, eMarketer, Forrester, Gartner, IDC, International Telecom Union, Morgan Stanley, RBC Capital Markets, Strategy Analytics, World Association of Newspapers)

No wonder brand marketers are increasingly seeing mobile as a key plank in their multi-platform marketing strategy. No other platform lets them run the full spectrum of marketing interaction, from broad branding campaigns all the way down to real-time, location-based social interaction or transactional engagement.

That explains why, in 2011, the mobile advertising market is expected to reach $1.2 billion in US; $200 million in Europe; and $1.5 billion in Asia.

And, turning to our market for a second: while India is still into advanced feature phones, smart phones are catching up in a major way as 3G rapidly takes off. Already, India has around 30-40 million 3G-enabled handsets. By 2013, we’ll see more than 260 million users – a major market for mobile advertising by any conception.

Mobile advertising: the best bits of all your current media platforms

Put simply, mobile advertising is on the cusp of market-disruptive innovation. Mobile ads will continue to get more engaging, involving consumers and taking them ever closer to one-on-one interactions. In so doing, participants in the mobile advertising industry are putting in action Confucius’ age-old dictum, “Tell me, and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”

So, here are a few thoughts to consider maximizing the mobile opportunity, based on my experience leading a company in this space:

1. Mobile = the powerful intersection of TV branding with online accountability

Bold smart phones with gorgeous 4-inch+ displays and amazing processing power are wowing the market pretty much everywhere, and these can mimic the all-too-familiar television experience. The next iPhone is rumored to be 4”+, and HTC, Samsung and LG are already using 4”+ screens in response to the explosion in web and video content. It is this high-volume mix of powerful handsets coupled with 3G connectivity that will migrate engaging brand media onto mobile devices in India.

After all, what other platform lets you combine the power of TV branding with the accountability of digital media and, furthermore, with the intimacy of your phone? And consumer interactions bear this out: Video CTRs perform 7X higher than traditional banner ads. (Source: Dynamic Logic)

2. Mobile video will fail to reach its fullest potential unless we break through the mobile OS silos

“Will my ad run on LG TV as well as a Samsung TV?”

If a CEO or CMO asked a media planning executive that question, he would be laughed out of the room. So, why are such questions commonplace in mobile? The answer is multiple, incompatible platforms when it comes to delivery and display of video inside the mobile Web browser.

Unlike on the PC, where Flash enabled in-browser video early in the 2000’s, mobile is a different story entirely, right now. From iPhone® to Android® to Blackberry® to Windows® – right now, there are multiple competing platforms in the fray, some better at displaying video than others and none completely compatible. Brands don’t care for any of this, and why would they? It just needs to work.

360? seamless and exciting experiences are what brand advertisers look to convey to consumers, cutting across all kinds of platform fragmentation and clutter. Right now, we are in late beta test stage with patent-pending technology which enables video ads across devices like iPhone®, Android®, Blackberry® and Windows®. Brand advertisers will now be able to use a single ad across their entire multimedia campaign, without getting all flustered with questions like, “Will my ad run in apps as well as on the mobile web?” Such questions are passé, unified video experiences are in.

3. Mobile phones are the ultimate social medium. Take advantage of that.

In our experience, video ads with social media sharing options perform 400% better than static ads. Of course this makes sense. Your customers are already on their mobiles to access Facebook, send a text, send an email or engage in other similar social engagement. It is the device they use. So, why not make it so simple for them to share your ad that they couldn’t ever think of not telling a friend.


The author of this piece thanks you for looking away from your favorite mobile device long enough to read his thoughts. :)

This article is the first in a series of guest pieces being authored by Saurabh Bhatia, Chief Business Officer & Co-founder, Vdopia. Saurabh Bhatia’s responsibilities include leading Vdopia’s market positioning and product development efforts as well as helping it stay in step with rising customer aspirations. Prior to co-founding Vdopia, Saurabh Bhatia held CEO/Executive positions in Maxcellence Peak Performance Solutions and SCORE Insurance Claims Management Software. Saurabh has over 5 years’ experience in sales and business development in various Indian businesses. He holds an undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, INDIA.