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India - A Mobile-First Country

Posted on July 01, 2015
By Ankit Rawal, General Manager, India, InMobiGeneral Manager, India, InMobi

More Indians are getting on the Internet bandwagon over the next 15 years than any other country, including China. As per a recent Goldman Sachs report, it is forecasted the Indian e-commerce market is poised for a 15X growth, contributing to 2.5% of GDP, or $300bn by 2030.

Like the invention of steam engine or the California Gold Rush, the liberalization post 1991 we are at a time when the foundation for a new mobile economy is being laid. We are fortunate to be the architects of this economy and have to shoulder a very big responsibility. Mobile has truly democratized technology in India and many other emerging markets. Unlike mainframes sold to enterprises and PC / laptops to the middle class, mobile phone has penetrated to most rural & remote corners of this nation.

In fact the dependency on mobile increases as income falls. But as the shipment of smart phones grow; everyone will have a super computer in their pockets. There will be an explosion of on-demand / hyper local services across food, education, entertainment, logistics, travel, financial, banking among other key verticals. Due to our unique cultural, economic & geographic diversity, coupled with last mile connectivity challenges, unique business models that are combination of 'online + offline', India will emerge as the mobile-first country. Also Indian mobile consumer is very different from any other. Solutions for an Indian consumer need to be much more visual & vernacular with newer payment mechanisms. I'm super excited to work across brands, agencies and commerce companies to see how they can leverage InMobi's products & solutions to solve Indian specific challenges.

While this is well understood by many businesses and entrepreneurs, what many have not yet thought through is the consumer behavior on mobile. Due to a smaller real estate (phone screen), the content has to be more visual and snackable (low byte size consumption at regular intervals) than more verbose and contiguous like it is on a web browser. Billions of messages, photos, tweets, likes, videos, pins, swipes are hitting the user because of which their attention span is fairly low and rushed. Another major shift with the mobile-first consumer is "Last minute Economy". The whole marketing funnel (Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action) has collapsed and the user is ‘discovering’ things on the go, taking action in the last minute. For example, you see a new gown on your Facebook newsfeed, you notice it was inspired by what Deepika Padukone wore at the recent Cannes festival and many of your friends have liked. There is a 10% discount going if you buy now. And you end up buying it even though you came to FB to actually check for updates from friends or family.

Another example of this could be that you are at Cannaught Place market where you have been roaming for an hour with friends. It is evening and you begin to get some precision pings from your phone about the nearest restaurants or pubs offering some ‘Happy Hour discounts’.

The challenge in all this is the explosion of choices and apps on that limited real estate (phone screen) where everything you have is fighting for your attention. Fixing this and helping the consumer discover easily is indeed a big deal today. There is no page rank equivalent of desktop on mobile today. This becomes even more acute here in India when it is a low-end smart phone with limited size and data connection. So the moot question is if there is indeed a way that I can discover my needs from a trusted source that is completely personalized and visually appealing? Also, since I use a plethora of apps for news, music, games and social media, I would love to discover stuff seamlessly across all my existing apps. Can current advertising move from traditional awareness/intent to being more contextual and visually appealing in a mobile-first economy? This piece of the puzzle will truly determine the future of mobile advertising.

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