Mobile Monday Mumbai: Grapevine, Peninsula Chambers, Lower Parel, Mumbai, 16 July, 7 pm
The July chapter of Mobile Monday Mumbai was perhaps the most high-profile of MoMos so far. It had a six-member speakers’ panel, instead of the usual one, and 120 attendees. The topic of the month was mobile advertising. The panel saw representatives from three Indian telecom operators—Hutchison Essar Ltd, Reliance Communications Ltd and Tata Teleservices Ltd—and two mobile service companies—OnMobile Pvt. Ltd and AdMob Inc. Entrepreneur Rajesh Jain, who also invests in mobile companies, moderated the session. Talk centred on the state of mobile advertising in India (very nascent) and what could change in the next one year. The discussion threw up some interesting questions about how mobile advertising could lead to conflict of interests.
Take, for example, US-based AdMob, which provides a platform similar to Google’s AdSense in the online space for advertisers in the mobile Internet space. That is, it hosts advertising space on Wap (wireless application protocol) platforms, coordinating with telcos. In the US, operators usually allow most brands to advertise as in the television or online medium, said senior architect AdMob Mike Rowehl.
If a similar service were to run in India, the telecos hinted, they would not be as open-minded. “If I’m a mobile gaming company offering free downloads, and I wanted to advertise, would an operator offering games for Rs50 per download allow me?” was an audience question.
The response from Harith Nagpal, marketing director, Hutchison Essar, was a flat “no.” The two-hour talks ended with the feeling that there was still some way to go before mobile advertising kicks off in a big way.