Mobile specialist Mobext, part of Havas Media Group, wants to convert marketer curiosity about smartphones into actual spend with a funding program called Atom, aimed at first-time buyers.
Atom debuted late last year in the Philippines, where Mobext has its APAC HQ.
It has since been rolled out to Europe and Latin America. Plans to extend the initiative to the rest of Asia were announced last month.
“It’s a fantastic business development move for Mobext,” says Arthur Policarpio, head of Mobext Asia-Pacific and CEO of the Philippine office.
“It’s our new business development strategy right now.”
Policarpio is offering 100 advertisers US$5,000, half the recommended budget for a first mobile campaign, to spend on various aspects of mobile marketing, including hosting, design, PR and media placement.
A modest target
The initial fund is relatively small at this stage, especially given that P10 million (US$230,000) has already been distributed in the Philippines. This helped fund campaigns for big-name brands such as McDonald’s, Pond’s, Ayala Malls and Petron.
“We’re being modest with the target – there might be cultural differences in other markets,” Policarpio says.
“I think we can do more. I foresee we will consume this fund quicker than it took in the Philippines.”
Mobext operates in nine Asia-Pacific markets but the regional fund will focus on four: India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Smartphone penetration in the Philippines is rising rapidly as consumers trade up from feature phones, Policarpio notes, prompting the idea of seed money to persuade brands to upgrade from simpler forms of mobile marketing.
India and Indonesia are at similar stages of development, with smartphone penetration relatively low today.
Atom’s Asian leg will also be slanted towards retail brands, after much of the Philippine fund was allocated to retailers, frequently on mobile couponing.
These customers are more likely to keep spending, Policarpio points out, making them sound prospects for the future.
“They have logistics in place to track results and can quantify returns in terms of revenue,” he explains.
“Other categories don’t have that. For retail, it’s straightforward.”