How in-app advertising is being leveraged to attract consumer attention

Mobile Advertising

Everything the consumer does today is simply a tap and a swipe away on their smartphones. There is an app for everything and they are an integral part of a consumer’s daily routine.

It is no longer just an urban phenomenon, according to GroupM and MMA’s ‘Mobile Marketing Ecosystem Report 2020’ in both rural and urban India, 99% of users are using the internet on their mobile phones and time spent on the mobile has grown to 3.7 hours a day. Therefore, a marketer looking to engage with the consumer does not have to look much further than that app that enticingly sits on the smartphone.

Vasuta Agarwal, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, InMobi explains why it is growing at almost three times the Indian ad industry growth rate. She says, “Digital accounts for over 20% of the Rs 76000 cr. of overall ad spends in India and in-app advertising approximately 20-25% of all digital ad spends. However, consumer trends share an entirely different story – 80% of all digital media time is spent on mobile and apps account for 90% of the time spent on mobile.

She explains, “The preceding stats by themselves paint a picture of the existing gap in the digital ecosystem. In-app environments provide a great user experience through native, contextual and often times personalised ads. And, these ads come in a variety of formats including full screen, interactive and video. This means that in-app advertising provides brands with the opportunity to engage with the connected consumer in a brand-safe environment and in a highly personalised manner.”

A number of leading brands such as Kingfisher, Kellogg’s, Swiggy, L’Oreal, LG and Asian Paints have been riding the in-app advertising wave to engage the connected consumers of India shares Agarwal.

The fact that everything digital today is now considered the mobile device, in-app advertising could then be considered synonymous to digital advertising.

Vaibhav Odhekar, Co-founder and COO at POKKT, believes that it is so. According to him, the desktop was never big from a lucrative viewpoint for brands and mobile web has always been a small segment. Interestingly, Odhekar shares that after the cookie ban from Google, marketers no longer want long term investments in the browser space which opens up huge potential for in-app advertising.

“Recent reports suggest that the global in-app advertising market was pegged at $82bn in 2017 and is projected to reach $258 bn by 2025. This showcases the importance of shifting ad spend to digital platforms, in response to the increase in use for both communication and entertainment consumption. Data has been big in the past few years, but what is more important is how marketers analyse this data currently present at the hands of brands. 2020 will see organisations become more mindful of how they treat consumer data. Consumers today are more educated and aware than ever and the entire marketing space is going to be more cautious of how they’re using consumer data.” Says Odhekar.

Industry experts say in-app advertising is essential to a brand’s marketing plan as it’s one of the most effective mediums to engage with the digitally connected consumer. The effortless relationship that consumers today share with their mobiles is helping marketers optimise their marketing spends. The apps of preference are in the palm of a consumer thus helping brands personalise their campaigns backed by data.

Which is why says Vishal Rupani, CEO and Co-Founder at mCanvas, in-app advertising is in vogue in the digital space. “There are plenty of reasons for this – first, users are increasingly spending more time on apps, and not just the already established heavyweights like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but apps across verticals such as Games, Lifestyle and Fitness, Entertainment, News, Utility, and Productivity”.

He adds, “Second, apps offer advanced targeting capabilities to marketers – enabling them to better their understanding of who their audience is, their behaviours and habits. This can be used to constructively determine what ads are displayed to users on particular apps, which are directly aligned with their preferences.

Further, Rupani explains that the usage of ad-blockers is continuing to grow around the world and marketers are scrambling for ways to get more targeted eyeballs for their ads. However, ad-blockers are not as effective within apps; so this provides opportunities to reach specific audiences without limiting reach.

In order to understand the potential apps hold as an advertising medium Vasuta Agarwal shares an interesting statistic, she says “Indian consumers use a variety of apps, with a majority of them driving monetisation through in-app ads. The average Indian consumer has 69 apps on their smartphone and actively uses 35 apps at any point in time.”

Social media apps continue to attract most ad spends. Besides the usual suspects like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, newer players like TikTok have been rising up the popularity charts and have taken the advertiser across the length and breadth of the country. Vernacular language players like ShareChat similarly carry brands to regional markets. Video is another category that is buoyed by OTT consumption. While Hotstar and ZEE5 dominate the OTT space, other players like MX Player, SonyLiv, Voot, Alt Balaji too are drawing in the advertiser. E-comm, utility, news apps are other popular categories, and the list is long and growing. There are also niche players like Truecaller that are attracting ad spends from across brands. Gaming is, of course, is another category that is becoming the talk of the town. A report released by MMA and POKKT projected that the number of gamers in India is expected to escalate to 368 mn by 2022.

“Rewarded or in-app ads ensure the ads are viewed for at least 15-30 seconds and therefore, allow the brand to convey their message to the user over a larger time period. Because the user has received the message well and is in a positive state of mind, his engagement is much higher compared to any other platform.” Shares Odhekar.

While the benefits of in-app advertising outrun the challenges, there are, however, a few areas of concerns vis-à-vis the medium. According to Rupanil lack of standardized measurement and attribution mechanism is one of the biggest challenges for both brand and performance advertisers in in-app environments. He adds, “Slow adoption of app-ads.txt by publishers leaves plenty of room for ad fraud and reduces control over brand safety.”

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