Friday, March 16, 2012

Mumbai Mobile Media

Atop the Four Seasons of Mumbai you get the million dollar view of the city for miles around. In a cool evening night the haze and din of horns is replaced by a warm breeze, a trendy crowd in deep conversation, and light electronica beats that fuse traditional Indian music with modern pop. High amongst the twinkling night sky we plucked our own star, the general manager of Star Television, Ajit Takur, to tell us about his vision of the future of media and mobile with the Indian people. Ajit has spent years in the industry and worked with some of the large media companies in the US and abroad but has recently returned to Mumbai to pursue new endeavors in media.

Amongst the poverty that is prevalent throughout Mumbai and India you still find a nation with mobile phones and television. From the rural farmer or fisherman with a mobile phone to the 10x10 foot shack in the slums with a television dish on the tin roof, people want the ability of communication. The people are very wise to the beat on the street, whether it's politics of the 2012 budget, sports, or drama shows. So much so that television has a deep penetration in the country with mobile dominating in the 90's depending on the sources. From the media producer's perspective the mobile platform presents a whole new world of products. It allows for media producers to create long tail content for short play and lower resolution due to device constraints. Ajit's passion is bringing as many stories as possible to the public on this mobile platform. To do so however he needs to be able to quantify his audience to the advertisers who are his revenue stream. Traditional television has established metrics like Nielsen but there is nothing similar in India's mobile industry. There is the challenge of getting the right content to audiences and measuring the viewer's response. This is why mobile advertising has yet to take off. How many are watching, for how long, and what's their behavior? Ajit pointed out that in India you buy mobile SIM cards with prepaid minutes versus post paid contracts and fixed devices like the US. It is common that a user will have multiple SIM cards and some may even have two phones; the primary phone and secondary, low-end phone in case you're between phones. All this simply means users can take on multiple personas as they swap out SIM cards, making it difficult for mobile advertisers to isolate segments and measure across the industry.

Despite the present gap, Ajit feels that the infrastructure exists and it's a matter of time until the advertising industry moves forward which ajit believes to be by 2015. When it does break free, India has a population of approximately 858M users that could explode on the scene. I would say Ajit will have his hands full with stories to tell at that point.

-George Tasiopoulos

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